SHE was only 21 when she started training as a nurse.

And critical thinking, confidence and gaining trust from patients are some of the lessons she learned.

Health worker Itumeleng Mojapelo, who’s now 27 years old and in her final year, shared her journey of being a nurse before and during the Covid-19 pandemic.

She told Daily Sun she wanted to be a doctor, but her final matric results weren’t good enough for her to enrol for medicine.

However, Itumeleng found her second love after she researched nursing.

“I realised it gives me the opportunity to interact more with patients than being a doctor,” said Itumeleng

“Because I was young, older patients found it hard to trust that I can treat them.

“But I refused to be intimidated and rather saw it as a challenge.

“I worked hard to ensure patients trusted my capabilities.”.

Itumeleng, who’s based in the surgical unit at Sunninghill Hospital, north of Joburg, said she was scared and stressed when the country was hit by the coronavirus.

“I used to panic when I caught a cold. I feared I could be infected and was even more scared to go home because I didn’t want to infect the rest of my family.

“It was a very stressful time and I was feeling overwhelmed. But I knew I had a crucial duty to save lives and save people’s loved ones. This motivated me to stay focused and carry my duties with love,” she said.

She said losing some of her close colleagues to Covid-19 took a toll on her.

She said: “The death of my parents two years ago made me stronger. I remained positive even during difficult times.”

Itumeleng received the Covid-19 vaccine last week.

She said she suffered mild side effects ranging from headaches and joint pains.

“Before my vaccination I was worried by all the negative things shared on social media surrounding the vaccine. But I now know they were all lies. These are people who haven’t taken the vaccine.

“I feel more confident now that I have taken the jab, but I will continue adhering to all safety measures.”