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Jackie Pienaar-Brink
Dr Janet Bell (left) and Prof Portia Jordan (right). Photo credit: Damien Schumann

Class of 2019 emanates a sense of pride, energy

A sense of pride and energy radiates from not only the lecturers, but also from the first group of students selected for the long awaited new undergraduate nursing 

programme at Stellenbosch University (SU).

The previous undergraduate nursing programme at SU was taught from 1963 to the early 2000s, when it was phased out as part of the new institutional landscape for higher education.

Substantial demand

Based on the number of applications received from across the country for 2019, it is clear that there is a substantial demand for this four-year programme, says Prof Portia Jordan, new Executive Head of the Department of Nursing and Midwifery at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.

One of the reasons might be that there is a great national need to provide nurses. In fact, it’s a national priority, she says. “Secondly, the Bachelor of Nursing is a new programme – not only at SU but on the new qualification matrix of the regulating South African Nursing Council – thus attracting applicants nationally.”

It should also be borne in mind that nursing is a sought-after profession for both school leavers and mature learners who want to better their qualifications in this field.

Because the nursing profession contributes such value to the healthcare system, it is a national responsibility to train nurses, Jordan emphasises.

Comprehensive disciplines

An exciting aspect is the comprehensive disciplines within the new nursing programme – medical, surgery, primary care, mental health and midwifery – which allow for collaborative practices across the various departments within the Faculty. “Sharing best practices and integrating healthcare education on the clinical platform can make a huge difference in care rendered to patients, families and their significant others.”

According to Dr Janet Bell, senior lecturer and undergraduate programme coordinator, the repackaged programme begins and ends where most of the healthcare happens in South Africa: in communities, clinics and primary care environments. A lot of time will be spent there, but the students will also be exposed to specialised services.

Outside their comfort zone

“The first group of students respond well to the programme. They have enthusiastically participated in learning activities from the outset and are increasingly comfortable with the idea of moving outside their comfort zone. As a group, they form a unit and are very supportive,” she says.

“At the beginning of the year, the students compiled a list of class values. Their commitment to realising these values in their interactions with each other and with me, is evident in our conversations and the way they interact as a class, in group work and with people in non-profit organisations that serve as learning environments. They are proud to be part of this first group and determined to positively raise the profile of nursing within the undergraduate spaces of the Faculty.”

Jordan adds: “Personally, I think we are very privileged to have a group of potential young leaders in the profession who display such energy, creativity, innovation and passion for what they are doing.”

Her vision is that the Department of Nursing and Midwifery will significantly contribute to the nursing profession in the undergraduate and postgraduate training and development of future-orientated and research-minded scholars and leaders.


Caption (below): The first group of students enrolled for the new undergraduate nursing programme.


‘I think we are very privileged to have a group of potential young leaders in the profession who display such energy, creativity, innovation and passion for what they are doing.’  – Prof Portia