NURSING is a popular profession for Zimbabweans here in the UK. Nurses enjoy a diverse and rewarding career.

They are considered leaders and are highly regarded. Experienced nurses have found themselves in positions of responsibility, often running nurse-led clinics or taking leadership roles at executive level.

Some have gone on to develop careers in clinical research, education and management as well as establishing nursing homes.

Nurses in the UK are paid huge salaries that can range between 30 to 50 pounds per hour. But nursing is not all rosy, especially for black nurses. A typical day in nursing is busy and diverse; nurses don’t just work in hospitals.

Nurses work in general practitioners’ surgeries, clinics, nursing and residential homes, occupational health services, voluntary organisations and the pharmaceutical industry.

To get maximum value and due reward from the profession, one needs a degree in nursing and must be registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

One would need to choose from four nursing specialty areas of adult, children, mental health or learning disability to study.

Nursing requires a high level of technical competence and clinical decision-making skills. To develop these, one will spend half of his/her nursing degree course on supervised placements in local hospitals.

The nursing frenzy was created by the Home Office. In order to curb the serious shortage of nurses, the British Government adopted an ‘open door’ system where anyone who wanted to get into nursing could just come to the UK to train.

Entry qualifications were lowered and a simple bridging course, otherwise known as ‘Access to Nursing’, was introduced. So nursing became the easiest course to enrol into. Those who left Zimbabwe with no ‘O’-Levels found it easier to get into nursing. Thus it seems 90 percent of Zimbabweans in the UK are into nursing.

To make things more attractive, anybody doing nursing would find it easy to regularise his/her stay in the UK. So nursing became a bridge to a visa.

This encouraged all without visas and without ‘O’-Levels to do nursing. But despite all the beauty of nursing, it has turned out to be a ‘horrible’ profession for foreigners, Zimbabweans included.

Nurses in the Diaspora face humiliation from staff and patients alike. They are discriminated against on the basis of colour. Some nurses here are regretting getting into the nursing profession. They are a troubled and unhappy lot.

Nursing has served its purpose of securing their stay in the UK, but it has given them unimaginable levels of stress.

Nurses are treated badly and they literally walk on egg shells, afraid to offend. Their every move is scrutinised.

Despite scoring high in their examinations, they are still not trusted, especially by racist patients. Zimbabwean nurses here go to work wondering if they will return home with pins intact. A pin is a registration number which allows a nurse to practice.

The ‘pin’ can be stripped away for very flimsy reasons. By virtue of their ‘outstanding’ colour, black nurses are more often reported on and punished while their white-skinned counterparts escape with light censure for similar offences.

For example, one Zimbabwean nurse (name withheld) was hauled before a competence panel because he slept at work.

He was adjudged to be a danger to the public, while his white colleague, who was also sleeping, was said to have been lawfully sleeping.

No doubt, nurses who are foreigners here are seriously depressed despite the good remuneration.

A job, no matter how well-paying, becomes very stressful when your every move is under the microscope.

So Zimbabwean nurses here might be well paid, but they are operating under difficult conditions as a result of the colour of their skin.

For views and comments, email: vazet2000@yahoo.co.uk