‘At times it is scary. But it is also such a privilege to serve.’ These are the words of Wilme Steyn, a former learner of Curro Heuwelkruin who is currently doing her internship year at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto and is a frontline worker during the COVID-19 pandemic. She matriculated in 2013 and has very fond memories of her time at Curro. ‘I really enjoyed the fact that we were exposed to everything and you had a chance to excel in anything you wanted to do. There were incredible support structures in place to make sure we always had everything we needed to be the best versions of ourselves.’
Wilme says that she never really decided to study towards a medical degree, it’s just part of who she is. Perhaps this is because her mom is a doctor. While her father (whom she describes as the kindest, most hardworking person she knows) and her sister (her best friend) also inspire her, Wilme says, ‘the earliest memory I have is of spending time in the hospital with my mom while she worked as a doctor. I grew up with the nurses and the wheelchairs and scrubs. For me, there was never anything else.’
Working as a doctor in this time of crisis is scary, but according to Wilme it’s also a priviledge. ‘It is an honour to serve our country and our people. I am learning so much and growing so much. It is such an experience working now. The hospital doesn’t allow visitors, so we have essentially become the closest thing our patients have to a family and that is a big honour.’ When asked about het hope for the future of our country, Wilme explains that she hopes that we take the things we have learned from this pandemic and maintain it in our everyday lives and that we become more appreciative of all the things we had previously taken for granted. ‘I also hope that we keep this respect for our frontline workers, because they work day in and day out with the same intensity; fighting many different viruses, be it COVID-19, or something else.’
Wilme hopes to become a surgeon one day as this is the part of the medical field that makes her the happiest. ‘I would also love to work in a teaching environment in the hospital because I believe there is a big need for a change in the way we teach our medical students. For now, I hope to travel a lot more, read many more books and drink many, many cups of coffee.’
We can’t wait to see what Wilme does next and will be keeping a close eye on this doctor.