Passion For A Noble Profession
The word ‘nurse’ has been culturally associated with women. However, the traditional perception of nursing as a female dominant occupation is now changing.
Amid the gender stereotyping barriers that still exists, the mind-set is changing and people are realising that nursing is not reserved for females only, but rather a profession for anyone who is confident, competent and committed to serve selflessly.
In Fiji, there are dedicated male nurses who have shown that the addition of men in nursing is a benefit, not only the healthcare institutions, but it diversifies the nursing workforce for enhanced health care services for patients.
One such advocate for nursing in Fiji was recognised during the Colonial War Memorial Hospital (CWMH) 2016 awards in December last year, organised by the Ministry of Health and Medical Services.
Shalvin Shalendra Kumar, 36, was presented with the ‘excellence in nursing awards’.
The award recognised Mr Kumar’s outstanding capabilities as a male nurse who has worked in female-dominated places, be it operating theatres, wards, Intensive Care Unit, labour units, maternity wards or blood bank.
In 2002, Mr Kumar joined the CWM Hospital for nursing student internship and through his hard work, he has climbed the ladder of success by developing himself as an operating theatre nurse.
Just last year, Mr Kumar also completed his three-year programme and graduated with a Master’s in Nursing from the University of Fiji.
He is also admired for this academic achievement which he attained by balancing his work, study and family life.
But what makes Mr Kumar’s story inspiring is that he was raised through hardship. He was born in Ba and raised by his mother.
He is grateful to his mother who worked hard to put him and his younger brother to school.
“My parents were separated and it was a difficult for my mother to look after the family single-handedly. I was in class 8 and my brother was in class 6 when our father left us.
“My mum worked as a tailor at garment factories and in the hope to find better opportunities we then moved to Suva. My mum enrolled me and my brother at the Indian College in Suva while she worked at one of the garment factories in Suva to support our livelihood,” Mr Kumar said.
After completing his secondary education, Mr Kumar realised that he had the passion to help those in need. So he opted to choose nursing thus in 1998 he applied for a three-year study at the Fiji School of Nursing in Suva. But when he actually joined the profession, he then realised it wasn’t an easy journey. It realised it takes a lot of commitment and hard work to become a great nurse!
“In the early stages of my career, I had the opportunity to work in the labour award and the maternity ward. It was a great challenge, especially to work in a female-dominated field, but I was confident that I will be able to perform to the best of my abilities. I am humbled with all the wonderful support I have been receiving from my superiors and also the other female colleagues who always support me. In 2004, I got posted to the Vanuabalavu Hospital right in the Lau groups. Having worked in a maritime community, it enabled me to develop my career in rural nursing. After serving in Vanuabalavu for two years, I returned to Suva as a nurse at CWM wards,” he said.
The road to success is always a tough one, but for a dedicated nurse like Mr Kumar, everything is possible through diligence, respect and empathy. He had to confront situations when people questioned why he took up nursing as a profession.
“Nursing is a noble profession as it allows you to use your skills to help someone and in the process it also enables you to become a much better person, knowing that nurses have great responsibility in providing the comfort and care that we have been entrusted to deliver for our patients,” he said.
“Scrub nurses play a vital role in the success of any surgical operations and we take great satisfaction in supporting people through difficult experiences. I have the opportunity to alongside the surgeons in operating theatres. The longest operation that I had encountered was more than 12 hours. It requires full concentration and strength but there is nothing more comforting when we see our patients recover and smile back at us.”
His only wish is to see more students joining the nursing profession as he continues to be a role model for nurses in Fiji.
Mr Kumar’s message is: “Male nursing is a profession that males shouldn’t shy away from and it is something to be proud of. It is a way to creating gender inclusion and balance to strengthen the future of nursing and to improve the overall quality of care for the diverse patient population.”
Mr Kumar is also dedicated to his family. He lives with his mother, his wife and his four children at their family house in Suva. He attributes his success to his family, particularly his mother, who stood by him to ensure that he gets the education to help him reach his full potentials in life.
Edited by Naisa Koroi