You can choose to make a difference!!

From a young age, Elizma knew the hard work and dedication needed to be a nurse.  Her mother exemplified such character and care when attending to patients.  However, for Elizma, being a teacher was more appealing as she could finish work at 2pm every day!  She worked at various businesses in Vredendal, yet still felt the need to apply to the University of Stellenbosch as a nursing student.  On three occasions she applied and was accepted at Stellenbosch University, however she declined the offers. Finally, in 1999 she started her studies at Stellenbosch as a nursing student.

Her mother encouraged her to pursue her dream of becoming a nurse.  She persevered through her studies and in 2002 she graduated.  Her career took off at a clinic in Bitterfontein and at the same time she completed a Certificate in Primary Health Care.  She then moved to Calvinia Hospital but did not stay there long as her desire was to move back to Bitterfrontein. It is here that she met her husband, a pharmacist, by ordering her medicine from him.  And one could say, the rest is history!

It was only when a post became available for her husband in Vredendal that they moved back to her roots.  While working at the Vredendal North Clinic, she attended an in-house training course.  She clearly states that: “It was on this course that I saw the intriguing details of the eye for the first time and I fell in love with this marvellous organ!”

It then became apparent to her that many people were going blind and the only assistance they could receive was at Tygerberg Hospital.  Patients had to travel for 3 hours to Bellville to receive treatment.  Seeing this outcry and need for an eye clinic in Vredendal, Elizma embarked on a one-year course at UCT in 2015, while her husband held the fort at home with three young children.  She emphasizes the fact that this was the hardest time for her being away from her family and that the help and support from her husband helped her to achieve her goals.  It was here at UCT that she came 1st in her class and received the “Henrietta Stockdale Award”.  This award is granted to nurses who show academic growth.

In 2016 the Vredendal Eye Clinic was opened.  Elizma said: “I did not realise the need for ophthalmology.”  The Clinic has grown at such a rapid pace that they are now in the process of moving to a bigger building.  The many lives and families that have been impacted by the Eye Clinic, bears testimony of the heart and passion Elizma has for those desperate to see!   She is so passionate about what she does and has a personal 1 on 1 session with all those going into surgery. Her goal for meeting with the patient is to encourage them and to calm their nerves.  She has found this to be most helpful for the patient and the families. Elizma attempts to describe the amazing joy and fulfilment she experiences when a young person or elderly person is able to see and enjoy the wonders around them.

Her challenge to all nurses: “You do not need to stay where you are. You have the power to follow any road!  Allow yourself to grow and make a difference out of an ordinary nursing job. You can change your world and those you serve.”