12 May each year is a significant day in Mediclinic Southern Africa.

It is recognised internationally as International Nurses’ Day, and allows us to shine the light on the tireless work being done within our hospitals to provide the best level of care. We also take this opportunity to introduce the new face representing nursing within the organisation.

Monyebodi Ngoepe, known to her colleagues as Hendrica, was recently appointed by Mediclinic Southern Africa in the position of Nursing Executive. She takes over the reins from her predecessor, Dr Estelle Coustas, who retired after a successful career spent championing nursing as a career of choice in Southern Africa. “Nursing is the backbone of the healthcare system globally, and it will remain a service to mankind that is needed from the beginning to the end of life,” says Hendrica.

Her passion for nursing was inspired at an early age by her aunt who was a Professional Nurse. “She always looked neat and tidy in her pure white uniform; always caring and compassionate towards others. Starting my nursing training in 1986, already then my dream was to be more than a Professional Nurse. I worked very hard as a Theatre Sister, always striving to do my best. I then realised that one could contribute more in a management position and studied to obtain a BCUR degree in Nursing Administration and Nursing Education. This paved the way of my nursing career and grew my confidence to contest for management positions. I could apply and serve as Unit Manager in Theatre; a steppingstone that led me to where I am today.”

Other significant moments in my career include appointment as Regional Clinical Manager in November 2014, with the responsibility to oversee both Nursing and Pharmacy. Although, at that point, I knew very little about Pharmacy matters, I am proud to say that I successfully executed my responsibilities and fostered good working relationships with Pharmacy Managers. We worked together to drive performance, and could see significant improvements in the region. In taking on the Nursing Executive role, we asked Hendrica what her vision for the nursing fraternity is over the medium to long term within Mediclinic. “I want to strengthen and empower nursing leadership to ensure delivery of focused, quality, patient-centred care.

We need to place our attention on ensuring an adequate supply of human capital, and continuous development of our employees’ skills. Our purpose is to constantly improve the delivery of safe, quality patient care while also enhancing the experiences of patients in all our hospitals. To achieve this, nursing leadership must be further strengthened and empowered.” In a country challenged by the limited availability of skilled healthcare professionals, Mediclinic remains committed to equipping the next generation of nurses and emergency care professionals. “Mediclinic training facilities are producing quality healthcare workers, with both practical skills and theoretical knowledge, trained within our learning centres and hospitals.

Mediclinic is aligning our training strategy to meet the operational needs of the business, ensuring that scarce skills are focussed on. We trust that these graduates will serve to meet the future demands for care and that those trained within our facilities will leave a long lasting legacy within the industry.” In her role as Nursing Executive, Hendrica believes that we should be building on what we are already doing right; aspects that’s working well within the industry and our hospitals. “We have an excellent on-boarding programme which needs to be augmented to accommodate the novices who enter our organisation. They often need additional upskilling, over and above the on-boarding programme, to build their skills and confidence.”

We need to move from the mentorship to the preceptorship model to improve the competency of our employees. Preceptorship being a more hands on approach within a period of practical experience, while a novice nurse is supervised by an expert nurse. In reference to the skills shortage being experienced across Southern Africa, her focus is on recruiting the right type of candidate. “I believe that we need to revisit our recruitment processes and recruit for attitude, providing upskilling programmes to curb the shortage of Professional Nurses in both the general wards and specialised units.”

With the pandemic so fresh in our memories, Hendrica believes that we should continue with the employee wellness programme to monitor the mental health of nurses, and also establish what their long term mental healthcare needs are and respond accordingly. “Supporting our teams is more than just providing the best working environment, it is about caring for their all-round wellness, to ensure that they are equipped and in a position to deliver the best care,” she explains. “I also believe we should aim to implement ‘Care-for-the-Carer’ programmes to recruit and retain nurses.”

While many are opting for other high-profile careers, Hendrica believes that nursing as a career holds great value for the community. “Nursing is a service to mankind and, unfortunately, all of us will require this service in our life cycle. There are numerous opportunities for personal growth and career advancement in nursing, while earning a market related salary with competitive benefits.” With the knowledge gained from her time in various nursing and clinical roles, Hendrica has a strong view on what needs to change and be improved. “We need to actively market our learning centres. It is further important to revisit working schedules and introduce flexi-hours to accommodate nurses who have social or personal circumstances that do not allow them to work the traditional shifts. We should also continue to create an enabling working environment where employees feel psychologically safe.”

On attracting future nurses to the nursing profession, Hendrica believes we should be going back to the roots. “We need to get to secondary schools, target the grade 10 learners and not matric learners who have already made their decisions regarding their career paths. We need to showcase the profession at the relevant platforms in the communities and on social media. This will enhance the image of the nursing profession.” In understanding the importance of her current role, we asked Hendrica what some of the other highlights of her nursing career are.

“The impact I could make at Mediclinic Limpopo during my tenure as a Nursing Manager and the respect that I have received from nursing colleagues, doctors, and non-clinical colleagues in Mediclinic, is something that I will always be grateful for,” she explains. “The opportunity to nurture people`s potential and to instil confidence; ensuring them that they have what it takes to become competent leaders. I could see nurses growing from Professional Nurse to Unit Manager, Deputy Nursing Manager, and Nursing Manager.”

In looking forward, we asked what legacy she wants to create through the current role. “Should I achieve my vision of empowering nurses, I would retire peacefully” she said. On behalf of Mediclinic, we wish Hendrica a successful, long and happy tenure as our Nursing Executive. We are committed to supporting her and her vision and look forward to her leadership of our nursing community and the nursing profession.

As she shares her birthday with Florence Nightingale on Nurses’ Day, 12 May, we wish her and her family a blessed day and successful year ahead. We celebrate all our nurses on International Nurses’ Day; thanking them for their exceptional care of patients and each other, and wishing them a happy Nurses’ Day.    

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article was correct at the time of publishing. At Mediclinic we endeavour to provide our patients and readers with accurate and reliable information, which is why we continually review and update our content. However, due to the dynamic nature of clinical information and medicine, some information may from time to time become outdated prior to revision.