A blog post by Noura Almadani, PhD student at School of Nursing, Midwifery, Social Work and Social Sciences
My personality has been shaped by my Islamic cultural background, values, ethical principles and beliefs that I carry with me throughout life. I spent my childhood on the northern border of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (Tabouk), living in an intergenerational but small community that has powerfully influenced my life.
For me, nursing has become the ‘Angel of Mercy’. A very prominent memory for me is the time that my father was admitted into Intensive Care Unit where he was not able to pray. The hospital staff did not understand our culture and the importance of praying for us, within the Muslim community, and this affected the whole family. My father died the following day and losing him meant losing the light of our household. I was inspired to do something to make him proud and, after secondary school, I decided to join the new Health Institute for nursing which was considered the first nursing programme in Tabouk.
In my early career, I spent time working in the pediatric ward as a staff nurse; this created many challenges for a young girl in a closed culture like Saudi Arabia. My family was very supportive and this encouragement helped me to overcome many obstacles. Marrying at the young age of 18th year did not hinder me in pursuing my dreams. In fact, it was one of the factors that empowered me to complete my studies, to be a good mother for my children and to be a role model for all Saudi women.
I am an optimistic woman; I love life, I love people, I love to make others happy and I believe that life is beautiful when we are honest with ourselves and with other people, plan our career, focus on our objectives and work to achieve them. All these factors inspired me to concentrate on education as the golden key for success to open the gate of the future.
I awarded a free internal scholarship and successfully completed my Bachelors degree in Nursing at King Saud University. This degree equipped me with the self-esteem and confidence to apply theory in practice. The emotional support I gave to patients inspired me to become more compassionate. In 2005, I joined a newly established General Directorate of Nursing at the central level of the Ministry of Health (MoH) and became actively involved in the development of nursing departments in 20 regions of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In this role I was involved in the strategic planning of nursing as a profession and promoting it as a competitive and professional choice. In 2009, I obtained my Master’s degree in Nursing Education from Marymount University, USA. I took on the role of Director of Training and Nursing programmes and joined the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Nursing Technical Committee, which is a political and economic alliance of six Middle Eastern countries. This committee’s goal is to achieve unity among its members, based on their common objectives. Carrying strategic responsibilities at a national and international level encouraged me to apply for my PhD.
The development of nursing in Saudi Arabia is still experiencing mixed reactions and this makes nursing a less attractive career choice for young Saudi women. However, despite the continuing negativity towards nursing, the number of Saudi women entering the profession is growing. When these women become proficient with clinical skills, critical thinking and awareness of the barriers that hinder development, their chosen professional status will be increased.
My journey did not stop there! I am currently in my third year as a PhD student at the University of Salford. As an international student, studying a PhD is a challenge in itself but the experience is very rewarding and so is the joy, love and hard work that I put into being a mother. In particular, the support, guidance and friendships that I have formed at Salford University have been, and continue to be enormously helpful in increasing my knowledge and my confidence; giving me the chance to learn from the experts. I have developed a good network of professionals in my field, which I am hoping to strengthen when I return to Saudi Arabia by organizing various seminars and projects. Last year, I started the Salford Saudi Society to provide a way for Saudi students to connect and share knowledge and experiences. I coordinated the 85th Saudi National Day with the cooperation of Post Graduated Researcher (PGR) students as a first Saudi event at University of Salford.
I have truly enjoyed my time here and I have benefitted from the University of Salford in numerous ways. The University has helped me to experience a rich cultural and social scene, meet different people and increase my engagement in voluntary work. I highly recommend students to join Salford University because it can lead you to build a good academic network, increase your earning potential, provide a wider range of opportunities and develop a more rewarding career. My time spent at the university has been both incredibly rewarding and challenging. In the next part of my story I will write about the challenges that I faced during my PhD at Salford.