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Durban academic sets benchmark for integrating students with disabilities into nursing education institutions

By Ashok Ramsarup :: While South Africa is facing a brain drain, many local nurses are packing their bags and taking their skills and knowledge to whatthey described to a promised land in the guise of improving their financial status and better working conditions abroad.  But for 43-year-old Selvarani Candice Moodley’s life’s dream has been fulfilled in making a difference to the nursing fraternity.  It’s love of the people and improving the health care of the disadvantaged people, while the country is plunged in a nursing crisis.

Selvarani Candice Moodley has just been graduated with a Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban.  Dr Moodley grew up in humble beginnings at a poor rural community at Motala Farm in the precincts of Pinetown. She was inspired by English nurse FlorenceNightingale who was an eminent figure in nursing circles whose high quality work immensely affected 19th and 20th-century policies concerning health care of patients during the Crimean War.

In the 21st century, Dr Moodley said her priority was to train nurses and improve health care and hygiene in hospitals and impact on the quality of life of sick people.   Her thesis focused on “developing policy guidelines for integrating student nurses with disabilities into KwaZulu-Natal nursing education institutions.”

In an exclusive interview, Dr Moodley said she was inspired with this thesis after teaching students with disabilities within an education environment designed for non-disabled students.   Shesaid it was her inner most desire to help people especially thesick and needy after her nephew was hospitalised for burns as a child.

From a very young age, Dr Moodley was ministering to the sick and poor people in the rural village. After matriculating from the Wyebank Secondary School, she was clear in her mind that nursing was her special calling. Dr Moodley strongly believes that divine intervention to be the driving force in the journey towards nursing.  She was the youngest of six children raised in Motala Farm by her parents who toiled very hard to make ends meet.  Not having any financial backing, the lucky break came when she pursued her career at Addington Campus, a state funded education institution, training as a nurse.

She later obtained a Diploma in Nursing. Following on that dedicated note, she continued studying at UNISA where she obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree with honours whilst being employed as a registered nurse at Addington Hospital.

This was just the beginning for the energetic lady with the lamp. Dr Moodley joined the KwaZulu-Natal College of Nursing as a lecturer at Saint Aidans Sub Campus in 2005 and was the acting principal in 2015 before the amalgamation of the college.  St Aidan’s Hospital was first established as part of the Anglican Church Mission, founded in 1883 by Reverend DrLancelot Parker Booth with the financial assistance from the Natal Indian Congress and Parsee Rustomjee.

Now she’s back as Dr Moodley at the Addington College where she first began her career as a student nurse in 1995.  She said it was critical that the public learn that nurses save lives with their advanced skills in monitoring patient health, high-tech therapies, educating and advocating for patients, making critical decisions, and taking bold action to bring hope to patients.

She owes her gratitude to her family and friends for their support and nursing education institutions and the many students with disabilities for participating in her study in helping her dream come true.

Dr Moodley also acknowledges the National Research Foundation for providing financial support during her studies.  She also paid tribute to her supervisor Professor Gugu Mchunu for her expert guidance in achieving her goals.  Her greatest support has been her husband, Desigan and three children Tristan, Luke and Leah who waited anxiously on the sidelines while she burnt the midnight oil.

Ashok Ramsarup is award-winning senior journalist of South Africa 🇿🇦

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