“The first thing a potential nurse needs to know is that nursing is a noble profession and because it is noble you have to always act professionally, even in the face of a challenge.”
By Sharmain Grainger
Time and time again we have heard quite a few people profess that nursing is a noble profession. It therefore should never be sought after as merely an income-earning avenue, but rather, be triggered by a passion to care for those who are in need of health care.
It was for this very reason that the woman who is believed to be the initiator of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale, delved into the field many moons ago.
Based on reports which have detailed what happened back then, Nightingale simply had an unwavering desire to care for the many soldiers who were wounded during the Crimean War back in the 1800s. She didn’t do it for praise or admiration but with the sole goal of helping to save as many lives as she could.
While some, who are currently in the profession may forget the genesis of the profession, Nurse Doneth Mingo certainly has not. In fact, no amount of money in the world would be a sufficient reward for the type of nurse she has become.
“I am not in nursing for a pay cheque, I am here – not leaving the shores of Guyana permanently – because I see the importance of nursing here and the need to pass on my knowledge to the young ones,” she said during a recent interview.
She added “although you get a lot of resistance from the young people sometimes, at the same time you have to do what you have to do and hope that when they get older they realize that you were only helping them to be better nurses.”
Not only has she been able to deliver nursing service to many parts of Guyana with distinction, but even today, when she could have given up and pursued many options in greener pastures, she continues to give back to the profession by sharing the knowledge she has acquired over the years.
Nurse Mingo could easily be classified as the epitome of what a good nurse should be, and she would have it no other way. For her dedication to the profession, Kaieteur News duly recognises her as this week’s ‘Special Person’.
A WAY OF LIFE
Having been involved in the profession for more than 40 years, nursing has become a way of life for her. But being a nurse does not come without its challenges, she confided.
Nurse Mingo disclosed that “The first thing a potential nurse needs to know is that nursing is a noble profession and because it is noble you have to always act professionally, even in the face of a challenge.”
She also stressed the importance of remaining humble.
“You have to swallow hard and sometimes see and pretend you don’t see some things, unless it is something beneficial to you. You have to learn to accept constructive criticism and always try to treat everybody alike; you have to always remember that as a nurse,” she underscored
Being a focused nurse is of particular importance since, according to Nurse Mingo, she had long recognized that although the doctor has a crucial role in the delivery of health care, “no doctor can function without a nurse.”
“The nurse is the one with the patient most of the time, if not all of the time. The nurse is the person who the patient relates to more. The nurse is the one who feeds the doctor with the information such as the patient’s vital signs; the progress or deterioration of the patient’s condition…The doctor depends on the nurse’s findings to be effective,” Nurse Mingo asserted.
This therefore means that all those tasked with delivering health care must at all times be prepared to embrace a team-effort approach in the quest to improve the health of the nation, she added.
Nurse Mingo has been able to appreciate what it is to have job satisfaction on numerous occasions. This is the very reason she remains committed to nursing. She disclosed recently that “the joy and satisfaction of caring for people is immeasurable…to see people suffer, and because of my help and care they become stronger and are able to get up and go home and live productive lives, that is what has kept me going.”
Although she has done it many times, Nurse Mingo has especially had a passion for the aspect of nursing called midwifery. Once trained as a midwife, a nurse is able to cater to the needs of pregnant women, even to the point of delivery.
As she reflected on her many deliveries, she spoke of the associated overwhelming feeling of contentment.
“You see a woman coming in wringing her hands in pain, the husband with the bag and you know that a baby is on the way. When you are able to help that mother get through that painful experience and send her back home happy and healthy with her bundle of joy, that is a kind of satisfaction that you can never get enough of,” Nurse Mingo shared.
But would you believe that in her younger days, Nurse Mingo would have much rather become an Air Hostess? Indeed, she admitted to this recently.
“I wanted to become an Air Hostess so badly that I even ensured that I studied languages…I took my languages seriously. I wrote English, French, Spanish and Mathematics too at GCE. At the time I couldn’t see myself doing anything else other than being an Air Hostess, I just wanted to be different,” Nurse Mingo reminisced. However, her desire to embrace that career path was essentially brought to a screeching halt by her father, who just couldn’t see that as a possibility for his daughter.
“He was afraid that planes could fall out of the sky and so insisted that I forget about being an Air Hostess.”
Although she spent most of her life growing up in Linden, Nurse Mingo recalled being born and raised in Belladrum, West Coast Berbice.
She was the eldest of seven children born to her parents – Preston and Phyllis Mingo – on September 28, 1955. However, while her parents resided in Linden, she and her siblings were cared for by their especially strict maternal grandmother, Eliza McKenzie, in Berbice.
Nurse Mingo recalled attending Belladrum Primary School and after completing Common Entrance, was able to secure a place at the Bushlot Secondary. She attended that school for one day only as her parents decided that they would much rather her attend school in Linden.
At the age of 10, she was forced to adjust to her new existence in Linden. It was not an easy task, but eventually she grew accustomed to the mining town.
“I spent all my holidays in Berbice until I was 13, then I stopped going to Berbice altogether,” recalled Nurse Mingo. By this time, she was really excelling at school –Mackenzie High.
Once her father had forbidden her from becoming an Air Hostess, she decided to become a teacher instead, unbeknownst to her parents. She certainly didn’t want to be discouraged from embracing this career path too.
But although her parents did find out before she even started, she was allowed to pursue this path.
“My father was not comfortable, my mother she went along with the flow, but I really did it because I was the eldest child and I thought that I needed to work to help contribute to caring for my younger siblings,” Nurse Mingo recalled.
Her first teaching job was at Coomacka Primary School, up the Demerara River. Eager to be the best possible teacher, she attended teachers’ training college. She was quite satisfied that this was the destined career path for her.
However, an aunt visiting from overseas insisted that nursing was far more lucrative a profession to delve into. As a young woman she certainly wanted to try. After all, by this time she was a mother of one and needed finances to make ends meet.
“My mother was my pillar, she took care of my son from day one…all I did was deliver him and assist with the money to help take care of him,” Nurse Mingo reflected.
She remembered seizing the opportunity to be trained as a nurse at the then privately-operated Charles Roza Nursing School. Upon passing all of the necessary nursing exams, the young Nurse Mingo was steered into midwifery training which, at the time, was compulsory.
“As soon as you finished your registered nursing training, you had to go straight into midwifery, because it was thought and felt, and I still believe that, you only become rounded when you do midwifery.”
As a junior midwife she was required to serve Ituni, and recalled that “it was very challenging, but I came out successfully.”
In fact, as she evolved as a nurse, she was posted to many locations across the country and served with distinction at them all.
Excelling as a nurse meant that she always had to be prepared to expand her knowledge base. So there was no hesitation on her part when she was selected to be trained as a Public Health Nurse, even though it meant moving away from her home in Linden to take up temporary residence at the West Demerara Regional Hospital’s hostel.
According to Nurse Mingo, “Public Health Nursing is very important because of the community-based practices and culture. When you work in public health you can always empathise with the residents because you live in the community, you belong to the community, you know everything about the community, and they dependent on you to achieve certain things when it comes to health care.”
She has also been involved in home-based nursing and has even been a part of many outreaches over the years because of her training in public health nursing.
She disclosed, too, that through public health nursing, a nurse is able to better understand the importance of attaining vaccination coverage, so that the communities and by extension the nation, can become healthier.
As part of her effort to improve as a nurse, Nurse Mingo was among the first batch of nurses to pursue the degree programme in Nursing at the University of Guyana.
Nurse Mingo has also offered her wide-ranging nursing expertise to the National Insurance Scheme [NIS]. There she was able to visit many shut-ins in the quest to ensure that they received their pensions. Her role also entailed comparing the morbidity rate against the medical certificates presented to NIS to ensure that there were no discrepancies.
But even after retirement, Nurse Mingo knew that she still had more to offer to the health sector. “I wanted to relax, but then I saw the need to share my knowledge with the younger nurses,” she said.
Moreover, a few years ago, Nurse Mingo was recruited by the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation [GPHC] to become a Clinical Instructor, training senior level nurses to impart clinical skills. She was also later appointed Clinical Coordinator for the thriving Patient Care Assistant programme.
“With the Patient Care Assistance programme, even though it may not be felt now, it is intended to bridge the gap between the qualified nurses and these nursing aids to be better able to care for the patients, so that you wouldn’t find patients being neglected. Even though the numbers are large sometimes, there is a demand for improved care for patients, so there is always a need for training,” Nurse Mingo asserted.
This mother of three – Travis, Tanza and Devon – and grandmother to four, has learnt that in much the way a balanced diet is important to an individual’s wellbeing, balancing your activities is also essential to being a well rounded person. She fully subscribes to the notion that “all work and no play makes jack a dull boy.” As such, Nurse Mingo ensures she finds adequate time for her family and always remembers to give thanks to the Almighty Creator since, according to her, “without God nothing can work.”
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