Young man’s vocation for care leads to academic accolades in nursing

From teenage oncology carer to cum laude nursing student

Thursday, February 14 2019

By the age of 16, Chiragudeen Shaik already knew that he wanted to work in healthcare and was impatient to get started on his career path. When he saw an advertisement offering a three-month caregiver training course, which had a minimum requirement of a grade 10 pass, he decided to leave school and immerse himself in the healthcare environment to learn all he could in preparation for taking up his vocation for caring.

Pic: Fuad Salie (left), general manager of Netcare Parklands Hospital, is pictured with RN Chiragudeen Shaik, who will this month commence his Honours degree in Nursing Management at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN).

“The only way my mother would agree for me to leave school to pursue the caregiver training course, was to get a commitment from me that I would continue my school work through a correspondence course. It was always my intention to complete my grade 12 qualification, but I felt such a passion for healthcare that I simply couldn’t wait to get started,” says RN Shaik, who has since not only completed matric, but has also earned the title of registered nurse, having completed his Bachelor of Nursing degree with distinction.  

After successfully completing one month of theory and two months of practical caregiver training, the ambitious young man started working for a care agency, and in February 2009 he was placed at the cancer care ward at Netcare Parklands Hospital.

“As a 17-year-old carer, this was a huge learning opportunity for me, although it was also very challenging, both in terms of the work and personally. I had to mature quite quickly because I was working with seriously ill patients and their families, however it was very rewarding for me to be making a contribution to their care.

“I gained invaluable experience and learnt so much from the nurses and everyone I worked with during those months. My hard work paid off and the hospital approached me for a job interview, and I was given permanent employment as a caregiver,” he recalls.

“Over the next two years, the passion for nursing that I developed at Netcare Parklands Hospital grew and I knew that I would soon have to make a decision about furthering my studies.”

In 2012, Chiragudeen approached his line manager with a request to be placed on night duty as he wished to complete his high school studies and the following year he obtained his matric certificate. 

“My colleagues helped me through the hard times, offering me all kinds of support for the difficulties I faced. My line manager at the time was Sr Alison Jean Louis, who encouraged me every step of the way and she became a mentor to me.

In January 2014, Chiragudeen was accepted to study for a Bachelor of Nursing degree at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN). “I was so excited to share the news with my colleagues, and Sr Jean Louis helped me to apply to the hospital for funding. I was most fortunate, as Netcare Parklands Hospital generously granted me a four-year bursary,” he explains.

“I made the most of this opportunity, and worked hard to complete my degree cum laude, obtaining the Dean’s Recommendation, and seven Certificates of Merit for midwifery, psychiatric nursing, primary health care, general nursing, community health nursing, nursing administration and fundamentals in nursing.”

Chiragudeen explains that he worked extra shifts whenever he could. “This not only assisted me to pay my bills but also gave me an advantage because I was gaining additional practical experience.”

As a result of his hard work and dedication, Chiragudeen received a scholarship award for his performance in his third and fourth years of study, and a second scholarship for graduating cum laude.

“I have now been accepted for the Honours programme, and I will be going back to university to start my Honours degree in Nursing Management in February at the UKZN Howard College campus,” the 26-year-old reveals.

Chiragudeen says he is currently gaining experience in one of Netcare Parklands Hospital’s surgical wards. “I have a deep interest in trauma nursing and it is my ambition to one day work in an intensive care unit. I am so grateful to the hospital and the wonderful people who have helped me to reach this point, and I have so much more to contribute in the years to come,” he says.

The general manager of Netcare Parklands Hospital, Fuad Salie, says that Chiragudeen’s tireless enthusiasm, dedication and thirst for knowledge have made him an asset to the hospital and an inspiration to his colleagues.

“We heartily congratulate RN Chiragudeen Shaik on his academic achievements to date, and wish him everything of the best for his Honours studies. We thank him for his passion and commitment to caring, which is clearly evident in his work, and we look forward to seeing him progress still further in his nursing career,” Salie concludes.


Issued by:           Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare Parklands Hospital
Contact:               Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville, and Estene Lotriet-Vorster
Telephone:        (011) 469 3016
Email:                   [email protected], [email protected], [email protected] or [email protected]