Dubai: During the pandemic, the world and UAE witnessed how the nurses, those selfless frontline warriors, rose to the call of duty to serve the sick — despite running a huge risk of exposing themselves to a dreaded virus.
Just ahead of International Nursing Day on May 12, Gulf News spoke to a group of Emirati nurses, working at various hospitals under Dubai Health Authority (DHA), who chose this profession against all odds. When their friends were choosing more glamorous and less-demanding jobs, a few of these women chose to serve their nation.
Passion for helping human beings
Meet Naeema Mohammad Rajab who started as a staff nurse 24 years ago and today is the assistant director of nursing in the emergency department of Rashid Hospital in Dubai.
Speaking to Gulf News about her choice of taking up nursing, Rajab said: “From a very young age, I was interested in helping people heal and feel better. I am told that one of my grandmothers had a similar compassionate temperament and in the olden days, she would always be at the bedside of her sick neighbours, trying to help. I also read that in Islamic history, many doctors and nurses had dedicated their lives to serving the sick. So I decided to enrol myself for a nursing course, even though I wasn’t fully sure what it entailed,” said Rajab who had the full support of her family.
Rajab started her career as a staff nurse in 1997, putting in eight-12 hours of work every day. “I was a shift nurse and always found it deeply satisfying to attend to those in pain and the sick. We had to multi-task and work in several multi-speciality areas. Being a source of relief and watching people get better gave me a lot of satisfaction,” said Rajab who worked round the clock during the initial days when COVID-19 struck. “The pandemic has made everyone realise the crucial role of nurses, especially those working in infection control departments. Nurses are like a wise and thoughtful investment for the future of the country. This is a very dynamic field. From being a bed-side clinical nurse administering pills, a nurse can move to intensive care, to the emergency section, be involved in research and clinical administration. Young girls looking for a satisfying career will be more than happy to enrol themselves into a nursing course,” said Rajab who took over the duties of the assistant director of nursing in the emergency section of Rashid Hospital during the pandemic.
A very fulfilling profession
Hind Mahmood Younus, another Emirati with a Masters in Nursing from Sheffield University, United Kingdom, joined the profession 12 years ago, because she thought it was one of the most deeply fulfilling professions in the world.
Currently, the assistant director of nursing at the Jebel Ali Trauma Centre, an outpost of Rashid Hospital, Younus said: “Although we had a few doctors in our family, we had no nurses. I am the first nurse in my family. My father Mohammad Younus, a businessman, was my biggest supporter. He wanted someone in the family to be dedicated to the service of humanity and is very happy and proud that I chose this profession. I chose a profession where I could truly serve humanity. In nursing, you get to learn so much about human life, about death, pain, healing, relief ... , it takes you through the whole spectrum of human emotions.”
During the peak of the pandemic, the Jebel Ali Trauma Centre was a COVID-19 treatment centre and Younus was in charge there. “It was a challenging period as we had more than 150 patients and we were working round the clock. However, with the directions and governance of our wise leadership, we were able to successfully handle that,” recalled Younus who feels strongly about nursing being a patient-centric job. “Even when I return home, I have work on my mind as we are dealing with the wellbeing of human beings. I have learnt so much about life from my job and it has made me a calmer, better version of myself,” said Younus who feels all young Emirati graduates must consider taking up nursing as it is a serious profession.
Nursing is not just a job, but a profession
Noora AbdulMajid Abubaker, is another fiercely proud Emirati nurse from Dubai Hospital who has completed ten years in the job and is currently the acting supervisor of the Emergency Department at Dubai Hospital.
She told Gulf News: “Nursing is not just another job, but has so many facets to it. People realised the true value of nurses during the pandemic when it was evident that nurses were working round the clock to bring relief to patients."
She wanted to be a doctor, but went to a career fair and learnt about nursing and decided to take the plunge. “After completion of my nursing course at Sharjah University, I realised we had to do a day and a night shift alternately. It was challenging. Also, my first posting was at the male surgical ward where I used to have a 12-hour shift. But I managed to overcome all those challenges,” she said, adding that she feels that she is able to provide a lot of psychological relief to the patients.
“I want to tell all young Emirati girls, your country needs you and nursing is not just about giving pills to a patient. One can be in intensive care, trauma, surgery, research or administration. There is a great growth potential for all,” she concluded.
Nurses add true value to the meaning of life
Jamilah DhaifAllah Saaed Al Ameri is the nursing in-charge at the paediatric ward in Al Jalila Specialty Hospital in Dubai. When she started her career in 2003, she had little knowledge of nursing. “In those days, we were not very clear on the exact role of nursing. When I read about the Institute of Nursing, that had opened in Dubai, I thought I would try my hand. To me, the nurses I had seen were those in clinics, administering pills. My family too was not clear, but they decided to support me,” said Al Ameeri who was fascinated enough to give the profession a try. “I decided I had nothing to lose. If I did not like it, I could always leave,” Al Ameri added. However, once Al Ameri enrolled for the course, she realised she had fallen in love with it. “There was so much to earn about human anatomy, emotions, psychology that I just couldn’t give up,” said Al Ameri who had many others, such as her siblings and niece, later take up nursing and join health care after her.
Al Ameri joined Latifa Hospital in 2003 and felt the proper clinical orientation helped her deal with her patients. “When mothers come rushing with anguish and arguments, I can understand that their anger is not directed towards me. It is there because they are afraid of losing their loved ones. I always try and understand the underlying message and the real reason and provide solutions calmly and that has helped me a lot to empathise with the patients and the accompanying care-givers,” said Al Ameri who was moved to Al Jalila in 2021 when all child-related cases were moved there. “At Al Jalila, I learnt about so many sub-specialities in paediatrics and there is so much I am learning each day.”
Al Ameri feels there is a great need for Emirati graduates to consider nursing as a viable career option. This profession has a such a wide gamut of areas where nurses can work, ranging from active ward duties, to research and clinical administration. It is far greater than just a profession and I think the entry of more young graduates into this profession can make a big difference,” Al Ameri concluded.