Let's celebrate our nurses | Western Cape Government

Let's celebrate our nurses

Nurse Gertrude Smit assisting a patient at hospital

Most people find it difficult  to choose a career path but not Gertrude Smit, she always knew that she wanted to help the sick and vulnerable. She is a registered nurse and has enjoyed her career choice for the past 24 years.

Nurses throughout the province regularly tend to patients, families, neighbourhoods and assist other healthcare workers to make sure that people recover from injuries and illnesses.

Sister Gertrude, or “Sister Gerty” as she is affectionately known graduated from the Sarleh Dollie Nursing College at Tygerberg Hospital in July 1993 and has been positively promoting the vision, values and principals of healthcare ever since.

Last year she was honoured with the Cecilia Makiwane award for her exceptional work as a Clinical Programme Coordinator at Community-Based Services in the Overstrand.

Sister Gertrude is recognised for her compassion for patients, their families and her colleagues. Her constant efforts to integrate services and creative approach of involving communities resulted in the overall improvement of the Overstrand sub-district's reputation. 

“If you have a passion to help people then I would encourage you to pursue a career in one of the most crucial jobs in the medical world, nursing,” she said. “The ability to put the needs of patients first, a drive to nurture the sick to good health and to go beyond the call of duty are all skills you’ll need if you thinking of becoming a nurse. You also need to have the ability  to start everyday anew, no matter the discouragement,” she added.

Despite facing many challenges during her 24-year career, Sister Gertrude says seeing the positive outcomes of her interventions, like contributing to the health and well-being of patients, working alongside NPO partners and other stakeholders have kept her motivated. 

South Africa has a need for nursing staff to support the health system. Nursing is a profession in which one has the opportunity to give care to others in need.

If Sister Gertrude’s story has inspired you in choosing a career in nursing, you will find the following information useful. 

Work as a professional nurse  

Nursing professionals are responsible for a number of duties which may include:

  • performing physical examinations on patients,
  • promoting health education and counselling,
  • analysing patient health history and electronic graphics on monitoring equipment,
  • administering injections, caring for wounds and performing personal patient interventions,
  • interpretation of patient information and issuing medication,
  • performing administrative duties working in collaboration with other health professionals such as doctors, and
  • monitoring healthcare trends and contribute to improved practices. 

You need to be qualified to practice nursingNurse Gertrude Smit checking up on a patient at hospital

In order for you to become a qualified nurse you’ll need to study at an accredited institution of higher learning. Nursing qualifications vary between institutions. You’ll need to ensure the qualification and the institution where you’re studying at is accredited by South African Nursing Council (SANC).

What are the requirements to study nursing?

Requirements that you need to apply to train for a nursing qualification differ from institution to institution. The basic requirement is a matric certificate with subjects that the tertiary institution of your choice has outlined as beneficial or required.

Career options for nurses

There are a number of options available to nurses as healthcare is often required in facilities other than hospitals and clinics, these may include:

  • schools and universities,
  • correctional facilities,
  • sporting events,
  • corporate companies,
  • shopping malls,
  • shelters for homeless persons, and
  • war zone camps and at sea.

Where can I get financial assistance for my studies?

There are various sponsorships available, including some from the private sector. The Western Cape Department of Health offers a limited number of bursaries for full-time study each year. You can get more information on the Western Cape Government Health Bursaries page.

There is also the National Student Funding Aid Scheme (NSFAS) which assists students from a poor financial background. However, financial assistance is based on academic performance. 

Where can I study nursing in the Western Cape? 

Nursing courses are offered at the following institutions:

Cape Peninsula University of Technology 
Western Cape College of Nursing
Klipfontein Road
Tel: 021 684 1200
Web: www.cput.ac.za 

University of Cape Town
Department of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
Tel: 021 406 6401
E-mail: nursing@uctgsh1.uct.ac.za
Web: www.uct.ac.za

University of Stellenbosch
Faculty of Health Sciences
Tel: 021 938 9111
Web: Health Sciences

University of the Western Cape
The School of Nursing
Tel: 021 959 2911


Please contact one of the following institutions to check the accreditation status of your course and the tertiary institution:

Department of Higher Education and Training

Call Centre: 0800 872 222
E-mail: callcentre@dhet.gov.za
Web: www.dhet.gov.za

South African Nursing Council

E-mail: registrar@sanc.co.za

South African National Qualifications Authority (SAQA)
Tel: 012 431 5000
Fax: 012 431 5147
E-mail: saqainfo@saqa.org.za

The content on this page was last updated on 22 May 2018