Naeema heeds call of nursing

Emirati nurse Naeema Muallem has spent 16 years in the profession. Despite many misconceptions, it is a job that brings many rewards, she says.

Naeema Muallem, an Emirati nurse at Rashid Hospital in Dubai, loved playing with a first-aid kit as a child. Pawan Singh / The National
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DUBAI // Naeema Muallem loved playing with the first-aid kit as a child, pretending to take care of the sick and injured.

It was this drive to look after others that led the Emirati into nursing, to which she has dedicated 16 years at Dubai’s Rashid Hospital.

Now, she wants other UAE nationals to join her, and is keen to dispel the misconceptions surrounding her fulfilling profession.

“It started with my passion to help others and make them happy by relieving their pain and ending their suffering,” Naeema says.

“Since I was young I always played the role of the person who takes care of sick and injured people, cleaning their wounds and changing their dressings. All this made me choose nursing as my professional career.”

It was a choice Naeema, in her 30s, has never regretted. Her job is demanding but brings many rewards.

“I never forget the happiness I sense and see in their eyes when they are fully recovered and happily going back home to their families.”

A career highlight was the recovery of a taxi driver who suffered 40 per cent burns to his legs in an accident.

“One of the best memories I have was when he came back to the unit in his uniform just to show us how he had recovered and was back to work,” Naeema says.

The taxi driver gave her a “thank you” card, saying her support had been essential to his recovery.

“He said, ‘Because of you and your encouragement I managed to stand up on my feet again at a time I thought I had lost my life and my job as a taxi driver’,” she said. “He was thanking me for giving him back his life, while I was thinking that I was just doing my duty as a nurse.”

Despite the satisfaction the job brings, there are far too few Emiratis in nursing, Naeema says.

She believes this is partly because of the physical and psychological workload, and a lack of awareness among the public and the community of the role nurses play.

“More awareness is needed with regard to the different roles in nursing and career advancement opportunities,” she says.

“Many families object to daughters and wives working as nurses because of the shifts, long working hours, and that the work requires physical contact with men, which is taboo in conservative societies.”

Despite some progress, nursing still does not get the recognition it deserves, Naeema says.

Campaigns promoting the profession, school visits and organising hospital tours for pupils would help to educate people that nursing is a noble profession, which offers many options in clinical careers, education and management, she says.

“Career opportunities that the field of nursing could offer include being a nurse manager, educator, practitioner, researcher and a publisher,” Naeema says.

“With education, a nurse could hold a university bachelor’s degree and advance to a PhD degree.”

She says ambition, initiative, dedication, hard work, persistence and a spirit of teamwork is needed in her profession.

“I would strongly encourage anyone to choose nursing as their future profession,” Naeema says. “It is really hard to describe the feeling you get from caring for your patients.

“It is the complete sense of happiness, satisfaction and the gratitude to Allah for giving me the chance to help others, end their suffering and pain, save their lives and restore their functionality after major injuries or traumas.”