Career: From my first thoughts about nursing roles to date

My blog has its genesis in my memories when I performed my first role as a night-shift hospital superintendent during the year when I had finished my nursing bachelor’s degree. At least at first, although overwhelming I found the whole exercise to be interesting.

I purposely start-off with a poem –the acts in the poem are all taken from “my initial thoughts of what nurses do” before I joined the profession. The poem is written in the third person voice to indicate the universality of the nature of my initial thoughts about nurses.

The nurse is, a mother, husband, a child, excreta ….
The nurse learns to care, and
To look out for those that need care.
She seeks diverse knowledge that link
the body, and the person.
To be able to have a clue on the dynamic
patients´ condition, she assesses, documents
and makes care plans.
The nurse monitors, listens, encourages,
and fills her plan with patients´/ family needs

that require him to resolve. Certainly, this is not the only things that nurses offer. Such a truth, has been with me through my nursing career.

In the real world of practice, nurses not only take care of only patients, but they are also involved in administration and other roles. Below, I decided to mention this first experience of my role as a night-shift hospital superintendent, this possibly expanded my insight beyond my initial thoughts on nurses´ roles.

Imagine an evening in a hospital´s administrative block in 2016. A young lad is sitting at a table with books spread out all around him — documents on the number of patients, hospital wards, and emergency contacts. Besides those documents, he has a personal notebook of information he scribbled during his internships, clinical training, and pre-hospital periods.

I pulled out a big spiral notebook in which activities of the hospital are noted on a day and night schedule basis. At the top of each page, a heading for the shift e.g., night shift is written. The pages are blank with columns to record the number of patients on each ward, number of births (day or night), mothers in the hospital, surgeries conducted, normal deliveries etc. It is the task of the administrator on duty to fill in the columns and give a report in the early morning meeting. The sky will grow bright by the time one finishes the report. Throughout the shift, I learned to organize, communicate, time management and resolving complicated situation. Speaking of time, we noted everything by hand in the books —the format for today’s records remains quite close to the one we used then.

In addition, to the clinical nursing roles that I had conducted before, I got great satisfaction from my experience as the night hospital superintendent—I learned that nurses also take on managerial, leadership and research roles. Perhaps therefore I became interested in pursuing a researcher career later in my career so I could better navigate other contributions that a nurse can have on healthcare. I am proud to say that as a doctoral student, I have become more research minded— this has given me the ability to juggle to generate evidence, inform practice, and contribute to developing nursing knowledge.

This blog and poem reflect on my personal nursing journey – it’s also an invitation to think about the things that stimulated my interest in other activities and where I started my nursing experiences and where I am today in my professional life.

Frank Kiwanuka, MSN, RN, is a nurse, and a doctoral student at the University of Eastern Finland, Faculty of Health Sciences, Department of Nursing Science, Kuopio

Note: Some part of this blog was published in an earlier story telling video in Global Nursing Caucus – “Vital signs: stories from courageous nurses across the globe, February 24, 2021. Visit:

Picture: Frank Kiwanuka during clinical training in 2013 at Mulago National Hospital, Kampala, Uganda