MADURAI: While studying in Class IV, Daniel Vijayaraj's mother underwent a surgery to remove her uterus. The boy stayed with his mother at the hospital ward and witnessed something that changed his whole life.
The sensitive care the nurses provided to his mother and the mighty patience they showed while explaining everything to him, encouraged him to pursue a walk of life in nursing. Subsequent events have achieved him the precious Nightingale Award constituted by the National Health Service (NHS) Foundation Trust in England.
Vijayaraj (50), the first male nurse from India to bag the award, joined South Tees Hospital Middlesbrough in England in 2001. He is now a specialist in dialysis and cardioversion, and a guide for nursing students. The 50-year-old was recently in Madurai to attend a felicitation function organised by The American College and St Mar's Higher Secondary School.
On the occasion, he had said, "Receiving the Nightingale Award was humbling. This only increases my responsibility. The honour is not mine, but all male nurses working across the world."
As with many things that make Tamils proud now, Vijayaraj’s past resides in Keeladi. "I was born in a middle class family in a village. When my mother went through that surgery, the nurses at the Christian Mission Hospital took care of her as if she was their own daughter. They taught me how to clean wounds, and instructed me on giving medicines to my mother. The humane vibes they instilled in me have brought me this far," he said.
Explaining how the role of nurses in England is distinct from the duties of their counterparts in India, Vijayaraj said the medical opinion of nurses mattered more in England. "The role is more dignified. Even if a doctor discharges a patient, we have the authority to keep the patient at the hospital for more days. The doctors in England are not allowed to rebuke patients," he said.
"In case of any medical negligence on our part, we inform the patients at once. Nurses in England have to clock 37.5 hours a week, or work three 12-hour shifts. Each nurse will have to take care of eight patients, while in India one nurse may be assigned 25 patients," he added.
Vijayaraj expressed his gratitude towards Chief Minister MK Stalin who personally appreciated him for securing the award.