Shuvai Foley is a nurse from Zimbabwe. She migrated to the UK in 2002 after being encouraged to by a fellow medical practitioner and friend. In her interview, she compares working in Zimbabwe with the UK, from an educational perspective and hands-on in hospitals.
I came over in 2002 and I came on my own. When I came over it was an experiment really, I used to work in a good job back home in Zimbabwe, but my friend was here and kept saying “You need to come over to the UK” so when I came over initially I wanted to try and see how it goes. I’m still here. Almost 20 years of my life.
Oh yes you do get it. From all angles to be honest with you. You do get it. I can give you a very good example. If you have got like a student, even sometimes they’d go and ask an assistant for information when you’re looking after them. Or even a doctor will come and assist when you are qualified. It is there. It’s subtle but it’s there unfortunately.
Nursing in Zimbabwe was much more exciting than here definitely. Because there you’re looking after patients who you see get better. You advise them. I don’t know if you can call it ... but you find it in Zimbabwe that patients have more respect for the nurses and whatever the nurse says, the patient will tend to agree. Here, it’s like they will say “why”. They don’t trust what we are saying.
The biggest advantage is that you work when you want to and you are not involved in the politics of the world. You are just going in to do your work and go home. That’s it.
It is the same as in Britain. Back home obviously you get exposed to more things. You do more. You are more hands on from what I’ve found here the ones who are qualified and qualified in Zimbabwe. Education wise ... Practical wise we do more in Zimbabwe, because when you come here it is like after your training you have to be taught how to look after this, and we’re taught how to do this. Back home in your training you’re taught how to do everything. You look after babies in adult nursing. You’re exposed to so many things which you find here is a bit limited.
All I can say is I still love my nursing. It’s a pity it’s more paper-orientated now than being hands-on nursing, unfortunately, but I still love my job, I think if I didn’t like it, I would have resigned ages back because if you look at it, even salary-wise, the salary’s really gone down for nurses. You can get a better pay out there than being a nurse, really, to be honest. If I didn’t love it I would have left it but, I’m in it because I love nursing.
It is quite important because you feel like if you’ve got young children, they’re losing their identity already. And sometimes they just get confused to say “where do we belong? African, British, or what?” so, it is good.
Advice to young people
I would- I would say nursing is a job which you don’t have to go in for money- especially these days. You’ve got to go in because you love nursing and that you love patients because you do get a lot of challenges- I can’t lie about that. Yes, like I said, nursing here is different from nursing back home. Back home we had all the respect and people trusted you with the job but here it’s like people who research on whatever concern they have got and everything, so it is more challenging here. So you really have got to be a nurse at heart for you to do nursing in the UK.