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I Am UWC: Rae van Wyk, Future Nurse Extraordinaire

I Am UWC: Rae van Wyk, Future Nurse Extraordinaire

Nursing student Rae van Wyk believes in working hard for one’s goals – and after coming top of her fourth-year class, Rae is one step closer to becoming the professional registered nurse she aspires to be.

She was recently awarded at the 2017 Faculty of Community and Health Sciences Dean’s Merit Awards for earning top marks. She believes in the balance of things as well as time-management – this is what aided in her becoming a top achiever.

Born and bred in a small town in the Northern Cape, Rae enjoys sports and the outdoors - a natural outcome of her belief in the importance of improving the daily lifestyles and health of those around her (hence her interest in nursing).

“This degree includes community nursing and midwifery, as well as psychiatry,” she notes. “The options and career paths available with this degree are endless.”

While good work is its own reward, Rae admits that the recognition from the department reminds her of how much she’s grown over the course of her degree, and that it also serves as a reminder for her fellow Merit List awardees of how they achieved good results despite obstacles and difficulties faced.

The disruptions which occurred on campus in 2016, for example, challenged and tested her methods of planning and balancing. “It was demotivating since we had no certain structure around when and how exams would be written.”

And schoolwork was not the only thing that was impacted.

Nursing students have a practical side to their studies - they are required (by the University, but also bigger bodies such as the South African Nursing Council) - to work in clinics and hospitals, and provide service to their communities. The amount of hours which need to be completed varies per specialty and certain clinical competencies. Failing to complete these requirements might lead to failing the year regardless of marks achieved - as well as not being able to be registered as a community service nurse.

“It was extremely frustrating since we were unable to go to work,” Rae explains. But she persevered - and learned a few lessons along the way.

To her fellow students, she stresses the importance of a good system that will enable one to plan and prioritize between school, fun and resting. “Sometimes it’s better to take a step back and breathe, and then approach the situation with a new perspective.”

Rae is looking forward to completing her degree and eventually opening a home for children needing a safe haven, and also giving back to her community through running various projects and campaigns.

But as much as she is looking forward to making her dream career a reality, she also envisions herself having a big family someday, being a good wife and mother, and also finding time to travel the world.

Graduation will just be the first step: “I cannot wait to be finished with my studies and take on a new challenge and adventure!”