01 September 2020 | Story Andre Damons
Ntabiseng TEN Nursing winner
Nthabiseng Manele (23), a third-year student in the School of Nursing, is this year’s winner of the Exceptional Nurse Campaign Award.

A third-year Nursing student from the University of the Free State (UFS) became the first-ever student from the UFS to win the prestigious Exceptional Nurse Campaign Award.  

Nthabiseng Manele (23), who was born and raised in Bloemfontein, says she is honoured to receive this award as she didn’t think she would win. She even began to convince herself that she was not good enough and had already given up hope of winning this award.

An honour

“I honestly didn’t know how to feel. I must say, I was surprised at first and didn’t think I deserved this. After sharing the good news with family and close friends, it was made clear to me that I was working hard and that this was just me reaping the rewards.” 

“I feel honoured to represent the university and the Exceptional Nurse Campaign to inspire young people. I am extremely proud of all that I have achieved as a student nurse, and winning this award motivates me to want to do more as a registered nurse,” she says.

According to Nthabiseng, who always had the desire to work in a hospital and help people, her father had more faith in her. “My father always believed that I would come out victorious. I was completely surprised when I received the call, because I had already given up. It is incredible how God works; just when you think you’ve lost the battle, He shows up. This has encouraged me to believe more in myself than ever before.”

Making an impact 

Nthabiseng says she would like to make an impact in the nursing community. “Nurses all over the world are not given the credit they deserve, and I hope to one day follow in the footsteps of pioneers such as Florence Nightingale and Charlotte Searle and change the way the community view us. I believe that it is such an honour to work with other healthcare professionals to help people and save lives.”

Nthabiseng was nominated for the award by Dr Annali Fichardt, Director of the undergraduate programme, shortly after she and three other students returned from working as interns in the Jan Yperman Ziekenhuis Ieper Hospital in Belgium for a month.

She had to write a motivational letter stating why she has chosen nursing as a career, what she enjoys most about nursing, what she found challenging about nursing, and how she hoped to make a difference in the nursing community.

“At first, I was not sure what the award entailed, so my father and I made some phone calls to the campaign in order to learn more about the organisation. After actually seeing what this organisation stood for, which is to empower nurses from all walks of life, I knew that this was the best decision I could ever make in order to cement my place in the nursing community, to make a larger impact.”

Future plans

Nthabiseng is upfront about her future plans in nursing, saying she would like to become a lecturer and hopefully someday be the head of the School of Nursing. She feels this award will help to open doors to many learning opportunities in the nursing profession, equipping and preparing her for such a responsibility. 

“I also understand that this is a national award, which makes me an ambassador of the University of the Free State. I hope to continue excelling in my studies and clinical placements, and to learn as much as I can so that after graduation, I will reflect the level of excellence that the University of the Free State School of Nursing produces.”

  • The Exceptional Nurse Campaign (TEN Campaign) was established in 2005 by a group of nurses, businessmen and -women from various churches in Cape Town. Their mission was to create awareness of the nursing crisis in South Africa, to recruit exceptional young people for the nursing profession, and to mobilise exceptional nurses to the hospitals and clinics where help is needed most. They also encourage, motivate, appreciate, and honour all currently employed nursing staff, as well as raise the status of nurses in our nation.

    They also engage with people of influence to increase the annual health budget to meet critical needs and encourage church groups and communities to volunteer practical assistance at the public hospitals and clinics in the area.

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