The secret life of nurses in South Africa

 In Hospital Management, Worksplace

It comes as no surprise that nurses are the backbone of the medical industry. While doctors do noble work, nurses sustain it. Whether it’s holding patients’ hands during times of fear, inoculating children or cleaning up after a patient has been discharged, one could argue that they do the most important work of all.

Approximately 133 127 professional nurses are registered with the SA Nursing Council nationally, however, only about 68 105 actually work in public health causing a severe lack of nursing staff in hospitals.

The obvious solution would be to outsource the work.  R1.5 billion was spent on hiring agency nursing staff to help with the staff shortages between 2005 and 2010. However, hospital managers reported that the care provided were not on par with that of employees that have been working at the hospital for months or years. They proved uncooperative and forged poor relationships with doctors.

The reality

  • In a survey conducted of over 3 700 nurses – health-E News:
  • Over four in ten (43.7%) are older than 50.
  • 28% reported that they freelance with 70% admitting that they freelance in order to earn more money.
  • More than half of them confessed to being “too-tired to work” with almost a third planing to quit their jobs within a year.
  • Younger women and gentlemen are less motivated to become a nurse.

How to motivate your nursing staff

  • Superiors and doctors should treat the nursing staff with respect and dignity.
  • Create a motivating working environment by setting staff goals and rewards. This is the basic form of motivation in any workplace.
  • Acknowledge your nursing staff. A simple ‘thank you’ goes a long way in making a nurse feel appreciated.
  • Involve nurses in leadership roles. Give your nursing staff the opportunity to show their leadership skills. This can be achieved in various ways. For example, assign nurses to present educational presentations on nursing procedures, bedside manner and more.
  • Ask for staff feedback regularly.
  • Encourage further learning. The medical industry is forever evolving and consequently leaders should encourage nurses and other staff members to keep themselves up to date with the latest medical trends.
  • Evaluate your staff’s working conditions and identify areas for improvement.
  • Encourage nurses to critique and evaluate their own work. Identifying their own strengths and weaknesses will increase motivation and confidence.

Healthshare Health Solutions – Hospital Management service

The Healthshare team has extensive experience in delivering services for advanced hospital management. The services include all the aspects that a hospital requires to function at its optimal level for quality healthcare. The Healthshare service can be customized for anything from total integrated hospital management to selected aspects of the facility. If you are interested, contact us for more details.


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