Ramla Vuai Khamis is a scrub nurse at Mnazi Mmoja – the largest and main referral hospital in Zanzibar. Her calm demeanour is well-suited for her work, where organisation and preparedness are critical factors of success.
Each day Ramla prepares for her duties by going through detailed checklists to ensure that surgical tools and patient lists are ready for the surgeons she works with. Knowing the complications that can arise from accepting a patient whose medication has not been recorded or whose management orders are incomplete, she has grown the confidence to postpone surgery if there is any anomaly she feels would put a patient’s life at risk.
Confidence was a soft skill that resulted directly from earning a nursing diploma at the Aga Khan University School of Nursing and Midwifery. Understanding the principles of nursing ethics and patients’ rights was the foundation that allowed her to later be comfortable with delaying a surgery that does not meet the standard of preparation she expects. “The education I received gave me confidence to perform my role in new ways. Having the right knowledge and skills has given me courage.”
Beyond the theatre, Ramla spends time conducting outreach activities in schools around Mnazi Mmoja. While she is incredibly energised by her surgical support work, helping people avoid surgery altogether is more meaningful. “This is how we build community benefits. By establishing specific times to visit schools where we conduct health education talks on ear care.”
Currently her time is fully occupied, but Ramla looks forward to returning to her scholarly pursuits one day for a bachelor’s degree. “Education has contributed to a change in my performance and has helped me provide better care to my patients. If I can improve my skills and apply lessons, it’s a win for both me and my patients.”
This story first appeared in a collection of photographic essays published by the Aga Khan University Zanzibar: Nurses and Midwives transforming the landscape of health.