Florence Nightingale is a name that reflects the very image of caring, compassion and modern nursing.
Despite dying in 1910, her name carries on, affirming the important role nurses play within the medical world.
But just how important a role do nurses play within the medical field?
Dr Yvonne Combrinck, Nursing Manager at Mediclinic Newcastle, says that nurses are the cornerstones for providing comprehensive care according to patients’ individual needs, utilising knowledge and skills based on the science of nursing.
“But there is also the softer, caring side to patients’ treatment, in which nurses have a vital role to play. Nurses are the link between the patient and the doctor, being at the patient’s bedside 24/7”, explains Dr Combrinck.
When it comes to being an advocate for patients, very few are as knowledgeable about a patient’s condition as nurses.
Dr Combrinck is no ordinary doctor. She successfully holds a doctorate degree (Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing Science), from the University of Pretoria with a thesis titled “Strategies to preserve the professional dignity of nurses in a demanding healthcare environment”.
Holding a PhD as well as the role of Nursing Manager at Mediclinic Newcastle, what led Dr Combrinck to pursue a career as a professional nurse?
“Ever since I can remember, I wanted to become a nurse”, says Dr Combrinck. “There was no need to go for career guidance when I was older, as I knew without a doubt that this was what I wanted to be.”
Taking up her duties as a professional nurse in 1985, Dr Combrinck dedicated her life to her profession. She took on her first nursing leadership role in 1988 at La Gratitude. Working as a nursing manager in a geriatric setting not only provided a platform for developing her leadership skills, but it allowed her to immerse herself into her calling.
When Mediclinic Newcastle opened in 1996, Dr Combrinck joined their staff and has been with the Mediclinic Family ever since.
With over 30 years’ experience in the nursing profession, why did Dr Combrinck pursue her doctorate?
“I think to have a good academic standing affords a nurse leader the autonomy to act as an advocate for nurses within the profession”, says Dr Combrinck.
Her desire to promote nurses led Dr Combrinck to focus her thesis on the professional dignity of nurses. “Studying professional dignity gave me an in-depth understanding of nurses’ experiences in their workplace. I now truly see myself as an advocate for nurses. I believe promoting the understanding and awareness of professional dignity can constitute a positive change for nurses in the healthcare environment”, she says.
Very little has been done to enhance the dignity of nurses.
“Most studies focus on the dignity of patients, which is honourable, but nurses have dignity too”, says Dr Combrinck. “If nurses do not feel respected and acknowledged they cannot provide good quality nursing care to their full potential”.
“I will never give up on nurses and the preservation of nurses’ professional dignity. It is still a work in progress. My study supervisor, Professor Neltjie van Wyk, taught me to never leave a piece of work until it is done to perfection. It is a lesson I will forever be grateful for”.
As the nursing manager at Mediclinic Newcastle, Dr Combrinck is truly a woman of compassion and care. Her deep-seated commitment to the welfare of others burns just as brightly as that of Florence Nightingale.