Monday, October 20, 2008

Laurels for nightingale

Laurels for nightingale

T S Preetha for Expressbuzz First Published : 18 Oct 2008

Who is the UK’s best nurse in 2008? Who got the certificate of recognition for having completed the personal development programme? And who is part of the best perioperative team? The UK now knows the answer.

Keralite Minija Joseph is the first nurse (perioperative practitioner is their term) in England to win the three awards in the same year.

Minija is working as the in-charge of the cardiac and thoracic theatres in King’s College Hospital, the first Malayali and the youngest to occupy the post. And it is one year after assuming this position that the awards, instituted by the Association for Perioperative Practitioners, came in search of her.

“Someone from the hospital has to recommend your name for the award. And the jury considers your work and credentials. It is a great honour,” says Minija who started her career at Holy Cross Hospital, Kottiyam. She took up training in cardiac surgery in Madras Medical Mission and later joined Fr Muller’s College of Nursing for her degree.

“I was interested in cardiology because I wanted to be involved in all aspects of the speciality.

There were so many things I could do in cardiac care.” After securing the first rank in BSc Nursing Minija came to Medical Trust Hospital in 1997 and worked along with Dr Jose Chacko Periappuram and it further fired her interest in this speciality.

After one year she went to Bangladesh as part of the team which set up cardiac units there for the first time. It was the work there that gave Minija an exposure to the world outside.

Soon she took a flight to the UK and joined the King’s College Hospital which is considered the best in the whole of Europe.

Unlike the majority of Malayali nurses who are content with a high-paying job, Minija did not remain stuck with her first job. When an offer of a senior position came from Freeman Hospital, Newcastle, she took it and it was a major move for her career.

“The hospital was doing all major cardiac surgeries, including transplantation. And I learned a lot,” says Minija who often flew to Germany, France or Ireland to collect hearts for transplantation. And in June last year she came back to King’s as the head of the cardiac nursing unit of 11 professionals.

“The work atmosphere is very different there. Nurses are more powerful. Here they are demoralised and doctors often treat them as low-level workers. In our hospital I am authorised to tell a doctor that he cannot do a surgery on a particular day. Can you imagine such a scene here?’ Though the UK has a shortage of nurses the country has stopped recruiting nurses from other countries. Kerala nurses have an advantage over others as they are very hard working and committed, says Minija.

“But they need to express themselves well and be more ambitious. And committed too,” she says. Minija is married to Augustine Antony and the couple has a son, Amal, studying in Ooty.

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