The hardest part of being a nurse for Gershwin Slingers is meeting people who have just learnt their loved one has died.
Mr Slingers, 35, from Elsies River, is an ICU nurse at Groote Schuur Hospital.
He is just one of the 1 600 nurses at the hospital for whom sickness and death are constant companions.
“It is very emotional for the family and for staff, because you can see that they are very close to that family member,” he says.
Nursing is a tough job, he admits, but the motivation that gets him to work each day is knowing he can make a difference in someone’s life.
“When we see the progress of how the patient moves from the ICU until they get discharged, you know that you did a good job and helped the patient.”
In his 10 years at Groote Schuur, he has seen many changes in health care, but the general principles of nursing haven’t changed: good communication skills and compassion and empathy are as important today as they were in Florence Nightingale’s time.
International Nurses Day, held each year since 1965 on May 12, is celebrated on the anniversary of her birth. Born in 1820, Nightingale is considered the founder of modern nursing.
Mr Slingers says it means a lot to him and all the nurses at the hospital that their efforts are recognised in this way.
“That simple word of thanks, means a lot to us, it gives us that motivation to coming to work knowing we get acknowledged.”
Groote Schuur’s director of nursing, Aghmat Mohamed, says nursing is the backbone and heart of any health-care institution.
“I am immensely proud of all our nurses for the continuous hard work and dedication they contribute to the health of our patients, families and our communities.”