15 February 2022 | Story Andrè Damons
Dr Jeanette Mmabosa Sebaeng
After graduating with her post-basic diploma in Forensic Nursing from the University of the Free State (UFS) in 2006, Dr Jeanette Mmabosa Sebaeng returned to the institution as its newly appointed Head of the School of Nursing.

Dr Jeanette Mmabosa Sebaeng, newly appointed Head of the School of Nursing at the University of the Free State (UFS), is a UFS alumna who believes that the skills and knowledge she has learned here and at other institutions where she has worked, would contribute towards the vision of the university. Dr Sebaeng assumed her new position in January 2022 and is  looking forward to working with Prof Gert van Zyl, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, and the rest of the team in the school and the faculty.

Joining Kovsies

“I am so thrilled; some of the expected roles of this position include serving in some university management structures beyond the school and external stakeholders, and I look forward to the exposure and profound experiences I will receive in this institution,” says Dr Sebaeng. According to her, the decision to join Kovsies emanated from her envisaged personal and professional growth, mainly in the sphere of management and leadership in the nursing profession as well as in the university. “The organisational culture of ubuntu embedded in the UFS learning and teaching strategy resonates well with the saying in my culture: ‘Motho ke motho ka batho ba bangwe’ (I am because you are). The ubuntu principles of respect, caring, compassion, and dignity of others are in alignment with my personal values, and this in itself is an assurance that I will fit snuggly and thrive in the Kovsie environment.”

The University of the Free State’s vision of producing students who are professionally competent and globally employable, seems to be attainable. During my first two weeks in office, I received documents from Dubai, Philadelphia, and London for academic verification of our graduates who applied for job opportunities in these countries. This is fascinating, and I wish there could be a way of getting feedback from employers in these and other countries to determine if we are producing graduates with the desired attributes that are internationally comparable,” says Dr Sebaeng.

Looking forward

“The world of nursing education in the country is very small and there is a lot of interaction among members from different universities. I learned on one platform that the UFS School of Nursing has a state-of-the-art simulation laboratory rated number one and the best in the country and perhaps even in Southern Africa. I cannot wait to engage with both the staff and students about the use of the simulation laboratory; I would like to ensure its optimal use, while maintaining it for the benefit of the students.”

Visions and goals

As Head of the school, Dr Sebaeng hopes to provide leadership, guidance, and support to staff and students in the School of Nursing, and to ensure that the environment is warm and conducive to all. She is also looking forward to working harmoniously with the staff within the school, as she believes in an environment that enables all staff members to flourish in the expected academic activities.  “I will also ensure that I work according to the acceptable and recommended norms and standards of the nursing profession, which will be to the benefit of the School of Nursing and the nursing practice. For instance, good relations with the relevant stakeholders such as the FSDoH, clinical health facilities, and the South African Nursing Council, among others, remain crucial for the education and training of nursing students. All members’ views and inputs leading to the upscaling of the school will be valued,” states Dr Sebaeng.

Dr Sebaeng, who previously worked as a lecturer and researcher at the North-West University (NWU), says there is a vast difference between her current position and the previous one. According to her, her current position brings more responsibilities, including leading, guiding, and making decisions that should yield tangible, set goals aligned with the vision of the university.

A mother of two and grandmother of a handsome two-year-old grandson, Dr Sebaeng is adventurous and loves travelling outside the country, with an outgoing personality to match. Cooking and trying out new dishes with her family is also very satisfying. She also loves interacting with young children, which led her to teaching Sunday school for 30 years. “My life mainly revolves around church, home, and work,” says Dr Sebaeng.

The impact of COVID-19 on nurses

Nursing education teaches nurses to be competent, knowledgeable, and to acquire relevant skills that enable them to assume their professional role with confidence. However, nurses also require optimal health to provide quality care to our societies. “The outbreak of COVID-19 has taught us that nursing in South Africa lacks systems aimed at developing resilience and coping mechanisms during pandemics. Most nurses were and still are scared that they may contract the virus and infect their own families, or even worse, die themselves. Nursing education institutions must include workable psychological interventions in the teaching of student nurses, which will assist nurses to survive during future pandemics. Despite this, clinical practices must try to alleviate compassion fatigue, work-related stress, and burnout experienced by nurses, in order to render optimal health care and to continue to be functional in their daily activities.”

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