Listen to the nursing faculty and neuroscience nurse, Dr. Manju Dhandapani. She is a top 100 nurse and midwife leader by Women in Global Health. She serves as Secretary of the Society of Indian Neuroscience Nurses and previously worked with many prestigious organizations.
Today, we have the privilege of listening to an insightful interview with Dr. Manju Dhandhapani, a nursing leader in the field of neurology. As we delve into her journey and experiences, let us extend our heartfelt congratulations to her for being selected as one of the 100+ outstanding nurses and midwife leaders. Well done, Dr. Manju!
Dr. Manju shares that her motivation to become a nurse stemmed from her elder sister, who was already in the nursing profession. Following her higher secondary education, Dr. Manju cleared competitive exams and secured admission to BSc Nursing programs in prestigious institutes like AIIMS and others. Opting for the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi, she found herself surrounded by excellent teachers and abundant learning opportunities. After completing her BSc Nursing in 2000, she worked as a bedside nurse in the Neurosurgery Critical Care Unit, where she not only gained valuable experience but also met her life partner, a neurosurgeon.
During her time as a bedside nurse, Dr. Manju realized the immense unmet needs of patients with neurological and neurosurgical conditions, as well as their caregivers. Recognizing the pivotal role nurses play in touching the lives of these individuals, she became passionate about going above and beyond to address their unique challenges. This realization fueled her desire to pursue a master’s degree in Neuroscience nursing, followed by a Ph.D. Through her academic journey and with the support of her husband, Dr. Manju continuously sought innovative ways to meet the needs of patients.
When asked about the role of nurses in the healthcare system, Dr. Manju firmly believes that nurses are the backbone of healthcare. With over 3 million nurses in India, they constitute a significant part of the workforce. Despite the challenges nurses face, including poor salaries and working conditions, they always strive to provide the best care based on their learning. Dr. Manju highlights that nurses have the potential to further enhance patient outcomes by leveraging research, innovation, and evidence-based practices. Through continuous skill development, nurses can contribute significantly to improving healthcare in the country, not only in clinical settings but also in teaching, leadership, policy-making, and community-level initiatives.
Reflecting on her career milestones, Dr. Manju shares that every day as a clinical nurse was a milestone in itself, as she strived to improve her work and provide better care to her patients. She treasures the blend of art and science that nursing embodies, as it allows for continual growth and improvement. Over the years, she has achieved notable professional accomplishments, including being recognized with the Best PG Neuronurse award by the Society of Indian Neuroscience Nurses, presenting scientific papers at international conferences, and being invited as a guest speaker on stroke nursing at Hamad University in Doha. Dr. Manju’s dedication to her field is evident in her research work, particularly in brain tumor, stroke, traumatic brain injury, and palliative care.
When it comes to her contributions during the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Manju and her team faced numerous challenges but quickly adapted to the “new normal.” They explored innovative ways to continue educational activities, leveraging online platforms for exams and maintaining safety measures. Dr. Manju actively participated in initiatives aimed at ensuring the physical and mental well-being of healthcare workers. Her team developed a system for remote monitoring and guidance during the donning and doffing of personal protective equipment, promoting safety and reducing the burden on frontline workers. Additionally, she conducted research on critical care management of COVID-19 patients and examined the unique challenges faced by nurses during the pandemic.
Throughout the interview, Dr. Manju emphasized the importance of collaboration and teamwork in nursing. She firmly believes that nursing is not an individual effort but a collective one, where multidisciplinary teams work together to provide holistic care. She encourages nurses to actively engage in interdisciplinary discussions, exchange knowledge, and contribute their unique perspectives to improve patient outcomes.
In terms of future goals, Dr. Manju expresses her desire to continue working on research projects that address the gaps in neurology and neuroscience nursing. She aims to develop evidence-based protocols and interventions that can be implemented across healthcare settings to enhance patient care and outcomes. Dr. Manju is also passionate about mentoring the next generation of nurses and nurturing their leadership potential. She believes that empowering nurses and creating a supportive environment will contribute to the growth and advancement of the nursing profession as a whole.
In closing, Dr. Manju’s journey as a nursing leader in neurology serves as an inspiration to aspiring nurses and healthcare professionals. Her dedication, passion, and continuous pursuit of excellence have made a significant impact on patient care and the nursing community as a whole. As we celebrate her achievements and commitment to nursing, let us remember the vital role nurses play in the healthcare system and continue to support and uplift them in their endeavors.