A very different nursing experience

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For a month, across June and July 2019, Kirsty Redfearn (left) from Newcastle upon Tyne has been getting a very different view of nursing. Kirsty (21) is studying nursing at Sheffield Hallam University, but has had her first experience of nursing in a mission context working at the Partners in Hope Medical Centre in Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi.

“It has been a great experience and a very different challenge from what I am used to,” said Kirsty.

“The first week was quite strange because we had no in patients in the centre but after that things really picked up.  One of the things I have learned here is to be more flexible in my approach to nursing. In the UK everything is very structured and there are a lot of boxes to tick. Here in Malawi things are very different and you have to be able to think more on your feet as you go about your work.”

Kirsty found out about the opportunity to work with SIM Malawi for a month through church contacts in Sheffield. She attends Christ Church, Fulwood, in the city, which is also the church of former SIM UK director Tim Cudmore and his wife Lorna.

“I was speaking to Tim and Lorna about the possibility of a short-term placement and they told me about SIM,” she said.

“I was then put in touch with Andy McConville, the Northern Mobiliser, and he told me about opportunities in Malawi and Zambia. Andy had recently placed someone in a hospital in Zambia and so we decided that Malawi would be a good place for me to go.”

One thing Kirsty has found very encouraging in Malawi compared to the UK is the openness to be able to pray for people in the ward and also their desire to be prayed for.

“When I am in a hospital in the UK, I do pray for people, but mostly this is quiet prayers as I go about my work,” she said.

“Here there is a lot more openness for people to ask for prayer at their bedside and this has been a real joy. There is also a very strong spiritual element to the work at Partners in Hope for both patients and staff. It is encouraging to know that whether I am in hospital in Malawi or the UK, God is still in control.

“I am sure that what I have learned in the month here in Malawi will help me back in Sheffield both in the placement I will be in next, and in my final year of studies at Sheffield Hallam,” she said.

As for the long-term future, that is in God’s hands. I have had a desire to go into mission nursing for a while and my brief time in Malawi has strengthened that. I probably will not, however, board a plane to go and work as a  nurse in a mission setting the day after I have picked up my degree certificate; however, it is certainly something I will be thinking about.”

Kirsty is now back in the UK and, immediately on her return to Sheffield, she found herself in a very different situation, working on a three-week placement in Community Nursing in Sheffield.

Kirsty asks for people to pray for two specific things:

1. That she grows spiritually and thinks about what God’s long-term plans may be for her life.

2. For her transition back into the UK, the placement in Sheffield and her final year of nursing training at Sheffield Hallam University.