Table View’s Karla Whiley was awarded the Ian Webster Silver Medal by the South African Society of Occupational Health Nurse Practitioners (SASOHN).
The award is given to the person who scores the highest marks in an occupational health nursing degree nationally.
The 66-year-old Cape Peninsula University of Technology graduate is Canadian and came to South Africa when she was 19 and studied nursing at Groote Schuur Hospital.
“I also studied midwifery at Mowbray Maternity Hospital and also psychiatric nursing at Tara – The H. Moross Centre Hospital. However, I have spent most of my working life in pharmaceutical sales. In 2009 I changed to my present position, which exposed me to the world of occupational health,” she said.
Ms Whiley is currently the regional wellness manager at Koeberg power station and will be retiring in August.
In 2015, soon after starting her studies, she was involved in an accident which left her with a broken left ankle and a broken right foot, but her husband, Neville, had driven her to her classes in Bellville twice a week and waited for her to finish.
“This was for the first two months. If Neville hadn’t been willing to do this I would have had to defer the start of my studies until the next year.”
She said she had found the juggling of work and studies challenging but it had all come down to managing her time properly.
“2015 was the first year of the student unrest, which made it difficult to actually write the year-end exams. It was like being on ‘standby’,” she said.
“There was one exam I was on my way to write only to be alerted that it was cancelled. The second year, we found ourselves doing final course work at the home of one of the lecturers.”