International Nurses Day: Interview with Jenny Mcloughlin

Today is International Nurses Day, and this year’s theme is Nurses: A Voice to Lead – Invest in Nursing and respect rights to secure global health. TB HIV Care values and respects nurses and the work that they do. For International Nurses Day, we’ve interviewed nurses within the organisation, focusing on their journey within the nursing field, lessons learnt throughout their career, and gained insight into their thoughts on the importance of investing in nursing!

1. Why did you decide to embark on a career in nursing?

• I wanted to be a nurse as I had a burning desire to care for, serve and help people.

2. Take as through your career from where you started to where you are now?

• I started my nursing training at Addington hospital in the eThekwini district of KZN and graduated as a trained nurse and midwife in 1989. I worked in a district hospital in KZN as a midwife for three years. My passion for taking services to the community resulted in me applying for a primary health care position where I furthered my studies. This afforded me opportunities to work in the NGO and public South African health systems for more than 30 years as a nurse clinician, HIV coordinator, site manager, quality improvement advisor, technical lead and currently – the DREAMS director (at TB HIV Care). I have been responsible for PEPFAR-funded programmes involving multiple partners for more than ten years, first at the University of the Western Cape, where I was responsible for coordinating projects and budget management. I have strong ties with the DoH at the national, provincial, district, and site levels. I have demonstrated the ability to liaise with senior medical officials, government officials, dignitaries, executives of NGOs, FBOs, CBOs, the for-profit business community, and senior members of the donor community.

3. What is your current role within TB HIV Care, and what is your core responsibility?

• My current role is the PPPrev Programme Director, and my core responsibility is twofold: Ensure effective implementation, coordination, and maintenance of structural community-based programmes focusing on adolescent girls and young women (AGYW), MSP and parents and guardians, and ensure full integration between structural programmes, psychosocial, and biomedical and intensified economic strengthening activities.

4. If you look back on your career, is there anything you wish you had done differently?

• Not that I can think of. I’ve loved my journey.

5. What have you enjoyed most about this profession?

• I have most enjoyed reaching out to the most vulnerable communities and giving them hope, for example, prescribing ARVs for HIV positive patients and seeing life-changing journeys.

6. What has been the most challenging part of your career to date?

• The most challenging part of my career was watching HIV positive patients die without having ARVs to save their lives.

7. What do you still want to achieve in your career?

• I want to be part of leadership in the prevention space that will contribute to reaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), end poverty, protect the environment, reduce economic inequality, and ensure peace and justice for all.

8. What advice would you give to aspiring nurses who want to reach a managerial position?

• Take every opportunity given to you with both hands and do it even if it means finding out how to do it, as that is how you learn and grow.

9. Are there any qualities or skills that you learnt as a nurse that have served you well in a managerial position?

• A nurse’s primary commitment is to the patient, whether an individual, family, group, community, or population.

10. The theme for International Nurses Day (IND) 2022 is – Nurses: A Voice to Lead – Invest in nursing and respect rights to secure global health, focusing on the need to protect, support and invest in the nursing profession to strengthen health systems around the world. Applied in a South African context, are we investing enough in the nursing profession?

• Nurses benefit the communities they serve, and we should recognise their true value. An example of this was how nurses risked their health to care for patients and kept our communities safe during the Covid-19 pandemic.