Alumni Magazine #5_July 2020_single pages web

Megan Geldenhuys: Nursing’s ‘Butterfly Effect’ Faculty of Health Sciences University of Johannesburg (UJ) Chancellor’s Medal

She attributes the decision to take her studies further to a personal goal she had set for herself. “I did it because I had told myself I would, and so it just had to be done.” “I’ve always enjoyed research and enjoyed writing, but the master’s cultivated that even more. I love writing, but I also love nursing.” The most important lesson learned through the completion of her studies was that the hardest obstacle is learning how. “I would bang my head against the wall while struggling with something, get flustered and anxious and invariably land face planted in the mud – but eventually, one figures out how to do something. Now, that’s my motto.” Geldenhuys hopes that the award allows for more opportunities when it comes to her future career choices. She admits that she might not know today where she could end up later and stays mum on any possible predictions of what her future might hold. “I’ve tried to envision where I would like to be, and it’s simply too far away for me to conceptualise!” “God blessed me in this, too; by His grace, I finished it, and I finished well.”

After the completion of her master’s degree in professional nursing science, she hopes to see a day where nursing specialists lead the profession – and wishes to use her qualifications and skills to help make this a reality, says Megan Geldenhuys. “Imagine a South Africa where all the nurses cared! It would transform the health sector and could inspire the nation. I sometimes think that we have forgotten the reason we nurse. We have become distracted with politics and our own motives, and even with academics and climbing the career ladder.” We need a fairly drastic shift in focus, she says. “We need to get back to the point of nursing: the patient. We are nurses for patients and not for ourselves – and if that becomes our focus, it can change the way we work and the way we interact with our patients, their families and with each other.” Geldenhuys wants to see the delivery of care improve, similar to a butterfly effect; how do we get from here to there, she asks? “Being awarded the Chancellor’s Medal caught me by surprise,” says Geldenhuys. “I will say that this study was the single most difficult thing I have ever attempted in my life.” She attributes her success to a mixture of time, hard work and an amazing supervisor who wouldn’t let her give up her dreams of excelling in her chosen field. “My supervisor, Prof Downing, is a great inspiration to me. She manages to be professional, kind

and consistent at the same time – and she achieves more than any other human I know.” She finds further inspiration from those around her, including her parents, who wake up to face the world with a smile no matter what. “I also cannot talk obtaining this degree without mentioning my husband. He has supported me in every way, including cheering me on and doing the dishes.” It was her father who told her she could study anything she wanted after matric, and there she found herself at a crossroads, caught between studying journalism or nursing. “An older girl from my dance school took me job-shadowing one Saturday afternoon. I think she tried to scare me by taking me to the trauma unit at the Johannesburg General Hospital – but it had the opposite effect.”



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