Proving that age is nothing but a state of mind, a Durban pensioner has obtained her master’s degree in nursing at age 75

Graduate Pumla Ntikinca spoke to News24 on Friday, saying she was elated at her qualification.

“I am so happy with all the encouragement and wonderful things people have said.”

Hailing from the small town of Mount Frere in the Eastern Cape, Ntikinca, who qualified at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, was originally a tutor at the institution.

She said she grew up in a Christian family for whom advancing in education was the norm.

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“My mother and father were qualified teachers and my father received an honorary degree from the University of Fort Hare at his retirement. I can proudly say that I come from a family of professionals, graduates and academics – both on the maternal and paternal side. My children, nieces and nephews also fall within these categories.”

Fikile Mtshali, her academic leader in the nursing discipline, said Ntikinca’s achievements “bear testimony to the fact that being resilient, driven and determined can help one to achieve one’s life goal”.

Supervised by Drs Ann Jarvis and Olivia Baloyi, Ntikinca’s study was titled “An exploration of attitudes, knowledge and perceptions on assessment of pain in neonates, by advanced midwifery students at a university in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa”.

“My interest in this topic was aroused when I was a nurse educator at a nursing college, teaching neonatology to midwifery students,” she said.

Ntikinca said she found a shortcoming in neonatology.

“I realised that nurses in general fall short on the intricacies of specialised care in Neonatal Inclusive Care Units (NICUs). I decided to register for a clinical master’s degree in advanced midwifery (maternal and childcare). The study aimed to assess and generate evidence for nursing education and practice.”

She said three categories emerged from the content analysis of the data, namely, the elimination process, restricted assessment and non-standardised approaches.

“Pain did not receive primary attention as an indication of neonatal discomfort,” Ntikinca said.

She said the study also identified a lack of knowledge on the use of assessment tools, with haphazard assessment, and the lack of a scientific approach to pain assessment in the neonate by advanced midwifery students.

“This poses a challenge to the long and short-term health of the neonate and needs to be recognised in midwifery nursing curricula,” she added.

Where to from here?

Ntikinca said she intended finishing a book she has started writing which reflects on her years growing up and her development into womanhood.

She will also be compiling articles to submit to journals on neonatal care.

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