Home City – Karachi, Pakistan
Current City – Sharjah, UAE (1.5 years)
Profession – Infection Control Nurse
Education – BScN, AKUSON
Hello, my name is Saleema Airaz Khowaja. I was born and raised in Pakistan. I am currently residing in the UAE. I am a Clinical Nurse and Instructor with a varied set of experiences. I completed my Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2014 from the Aga Khan University School of Nursing and Midwifery, with Merit Distinction in Child Health Nursing.
I started my career at Aga Khan University Hospital as a Nurse and then moved to different hospitals in Karachi, continuing my experiences from a bedside Nurse, Infection control, Head Nurse to Instructor in different specialties and domains. I have also published several articles in national and international journals and participated as a speaker in national level conferences.
I moved to the UAE in 2018 and joined Al-Zahra Hospital, Sharjah as a Registered Nurse in the Adult Intensive Care Unit. My skills and experience continued to grow, and I was then designated as an Infection Control Nurse at the same hospital. The designation has been a positive challenge, and I am learning new aspects of this field every day. Moreover, I am actively involved in education and facilitating life support courses along with clinical tasks. I have also received a Nursing innovation Award from the Ministry of Health, UAE, in a team led theme.
The greatest inspiration for choosing this career is the importance that His Highness the Aga Khan has always given to this profession. He has discussed how important the nursing profession is for healthcare systems. This has always driven me to learn and grow not only in the same institutions but also to spread the knowledge that we have gained to other institutions.
As an infection control nurse, it is my routine to train health care professionals on the best evidence-based practices related to the prevention and control of infections in a healthcare setting. I am also involved in implementing best practice measures in the hospital. Periodically, I will have to evaluate and provide feedback, and then re-implement evidence-based infection control measures.
However, in this current pandemic, our role has become much more important. The COVID-19 outbreak has shifted our focus.
Clean hands, wear my gown, mask, goggles, gloves and then remove the PPE in the proper sequence - I repeatedly perform this while training healthcare professionals who are dealing with COVID-19 patients. We always train and use proper infection prevention practices, but I think the change during COVID-19 is that we are working together to help each other to do them.
I am not only involved in helping to prevent infection transmission in patients and in our healthcare setting but am also responsible to monitor and track employee health and satisfaction. As part of the infection control team, I am really amazed to see the grit and determination of all of my co-workers who are caring for our patients as well as each other. The team work has been incredible.
My role involves the following - track and prevent infections, bring up the statistics, report the disease to local health authorities, and maintain and track employee health. More importantly, I endeavour to provide emotional support to co-workers and employees, provide them with the right information to protect themselves from this virus, make sure that the proper PPE is available to them, and make sure that they are aware about prudent use of PPE in the times of shortage.
Nursing has always taught me gratitude and humility. But the circumstances of this pandemic have also taught me how to face needs, scarcity, fear and anxiety head on. It has taught me emotional stability and now I am more determined and passionate about this profession.
As nurses we are living the legacy of Florence Nightingale by facing the pandemic of COVID-19.
Nothing in our lives is to be feared. We only need to understand what scares us and start to practice hygiene in the correct way. Now is the time to understand more, fear less and keep our faith strong. Follow proper hygiene practices. Follow the guidelines that have been put forth by local health authorities to keep you and family safe. This is the best thing that you can do for our healthcare providers as well.