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A Nurse Called Tina

A NURSE CALLED TINA —- by Joseph Kavulu [Nov 2009]

Story Outline

  1. Scene 1 – Tina, an orphan & school dropout, is struggling with life on the streets
  2. A good Samaritan takes her back to school &  to School of Nursing
  3. A glimpse into the life of Tina as a qualified & practicing nurse


Characters [7 No] – Tina; Flora is Tina’s maternal aunt, Tina’s friend Kate

David the Good Samaritan, Albert the Head Teacher, Doctor Tom and Nurse Regina


Scene 1 – Story Format

Tina was of medium build with bright white teeth, perfect nails, beautiful hair and a winning smile. Her eyes were brown with a soft look that seemed to say – you are welcome. She was shy and tended to say very little. Tina was born in the rural area, but became a town girl when she moved to stay with her maternal aunt Flora after both her parents died in quick succession when she was barely ten years old. Initially Aunt Flora was very kind and paid her school fees promptly. But after thieves broke into Aunt Flora’s shop, Tina dropped out of school and survived by hawking goods on the streets of the little town – newspapers, sweets, cigarettes, tomatoes, etc – anything that could bring in some money. Tina had a school friend called Kate who was lucky to still be at school. In the mornings and evenings Kate would attempt to teach Tina what she had missed at school.

One day a short fat man with a grey beard and a slightly bent frame bought a newspaper from Tina. He asked too many questions that frightened Tina. He wanted to know why she was not at school, and yet she was a young girl below 16 years old. He wanted to talk to Tina’s parents, in the name of the Community – he said. Tina did not have much to say in reply. She explained about the death of her parents and the theft at Aunt Flora’s shop, but the man was insistent – she had to go back to school. This exchange took place everyday, until on the fourth day Tina decided to direct the man to her aunt’s home for a full explanation.

When he met Aunt Flora, the short fat man said his name was David and he was a retired teacher. He wanted to help Tina to see her back to school. David and Aunt Flora discussed a few things and Tina overheard David say that he was going to pay some money at the school to enable Tina to resume schooling. Two days later, Tina was back at school in the company of her friend Kate

Scene 2 – Tina and Kate at school

Time sped by very fast. David the Good Samaritan was always there for Tina, and Aunt Flora once in a while chipped in with a surprise contribution that was always very welcome. Times were hard but bearable, as long as you remembered where you came from and where you planned to go. The years rolled on, and finally Tina faced her last college exams. Once outside the exams hall, Tina compared notes with Kate. It looked like the last paper had been easy but tricky. The two girls were joined by Albert the Head Teacher. He warned them against spending too much time analyzing what they had answered correctly or wrongly. He then asked the two girls what their best exam paper was. They both murmured hesitatingly – Biology. Albert then mentioned various careers one can pursue based on Biology – Nurse, Doctor, Vet Doctor, Pharmacist, Midwife, Professor, Research Officer, Health Computer data Collector, etc. He then asked the two girls what they planned to do. Kate said her mother was a nurse, and therefore she had to be a nurse. Tina said many people had helped her along with her studies, and therefore she wanted to help the community by becoming a teacher. A hot argument immediately erupted between Kate and Tina as to which of the two jobs served the community better. Albert tried to highlight the key points of each job, but the girls could not stop arguing. He eventually melted away, and the girls agreed to disagree and walked home hand in hand, singing softly

Scene 3 – A glimpse of the life of Tina as a qualified Nurse

A few years later, Tina and Kate qualified as General Nurses and were posted to a small Health Facility in their home town. The place had one doctor and one general nurse who doubled as the midwife, counselor, and psychiatric medic. The two new faces were supposed to boost the workforce to improve services.

One day about two months after they started working, Tina and Kate faced a difficult day. The time was around 10am, but the Doctor Tom had not yet reported for duty. There were more than twenty people waiting for service, including wailing children and one young woman who looked 18 years or younger in labor probably for the first time. She did not cry loudly but just sobbed as the tears rolled down her face. Nurse Regina the midwife had already attended to her and indicated that her true time had not yet arrived. Tina addressed the patients in an effort to keep them quiet. In the meantime Nurse Regina worked professionally treating those she could handle and counseling others who had to wait for Doctor Tom. Tina and Kate helped the best way they could.

At 11am more patients arrived, including Albert who had flu which he feared might be Swine flu and David the Good Samaritan who complained of breathlessness, feeling light and faint. Nurse Regina handled Albert while she instructed Tina to take David through the basic checks for High blood pressure, heart trouble, respiratory complications, anemia, etc – the full checklist, and report back. There was a tinkle in David’s eyes as Tina started asking him questions and Tina smiled back. Now it was her turn to pay back. And internally she vowed to do her best in diagnosing and treating David. Just then Doctor Tom appeared. He apologized to his nurses in medical language so that the patients would not understand. He put on his medical coat and gloves and was ready to start work. And with that the crisis passed.


Scene 1 – in Video Script format

Production Notes – the actors need to improvise movement, otherwise the action will be too static. The Cameraman should move the focus as people talk instead of taking a fixed shot. Suitable background music, at a suitable volume relative to the actors talking, may enhance the Video clip]


[The action takes place at a street corner in a small town. A woman called Flora and a young girl called Tina are arranging their merchandise]

  • Flora – Tina you should learn how to arrange the goods to attract customers. Display the best of the goods, but when a customer offers to buy, then you pack those items that have little shelf life left, like overripe tomatoes. Be aware of thieves & other fraudsters and chase away beggars because we are beggars ourselves
  • Tina – Yes aunt Flora
  • Flora – We need the money to buy food. I am too old to work, and you know there is nobody to help us. Your parents are dead & my husband died 2 years ago
  • Tina – But aunt, when shall I return to school? My friend Kate says they are learning new things everyday. I have now missed school for two months
  • Flora – Important things come first – food, clothes, and then you can think about school. Do you want to starve or walk naked? Come on Tina get to work, I shall pass by in one hour’s time to collect money for lunch. See you later

[Flora leaves, and soon after Kate walks in – wearing a school uniform & carrying a school bag]

  • Kate – Hi, Tina – what is new today?
  • Tina – Nothing. Just tell me what I missed at school yesterday.
  • Kate – First, there was Mathematics. The teacher said the circumference of a circle is two times pi times the radius
  • Tina – What is circumference?
  • Kate – Going round the circle, like this – let me show you with a drawing in the dust
  • Tina – I know radius, but what in hell is pi?
  • Kate – I also did not understand it properly. Come back to school and we shall ask the teacher. In English we learnt how to use the word – because. And in Social Studies we studied the Monsoon winds that blow between East Africa and the Arab world and assist trade in both directions. Now I must go. I do not want to be late for class. Bye. Do not get into trouble.

[After Kate leaves, Tina sells a few items – then a short fat man turns up]

  • Tina – Excuse me sir, can I help you? Please buy from my kiosk. I have many items that I am sure will interest you. Here is today’s paper
  • Short Fat man – Thanks for the paper. Do you have change? Call me David. But why are you not at school – you look very young to be on the streets?
  • Tina – Both my parents died, and I was transferred to this town by my aunt Flora whose husband also died. She has been paying my school fees. But one day thieves broke into her shop and took everything. Now I have to support her and myself by hawking goods on the streets.
  • David – But don’t you know that girls are the women of the future, and they need education because educating a woman is educating the nation?
  • Tina – Aunt Flora said I shall be back at school next term, as soon as I make enough money
  • David – What is enough money?
  • Tina – Enough money to buy food & clothes, and use the balance to pay for my school fees. There is nobody else to help us
  • David – Why don’t you sell newspapers early in the morning, go to school, and sell sweets & cigarettes in the evening?

[At that moment aunt Flora returns]

  • Flora – How much money have you made so far? I must go to the market now
  • David – Excuse me madam, my name is David, I am a retired teacher. I am concerned that this young girl is not at school
  • Flora – She is my girl. I know what is best for her. Who do you suppose will pay her school fees if she does not work first?
  • David – I have just been talking to her, and I think we can work on a solution. Let her work early in the morning. She then proceeds to school, and works in the evening after school
  • Flora – Even if your fancy ideas can work – who will pay the initial fees for Tina to return to school?
  • David – I shall do that. I shall pay the first installment today so that she can resume schooling immediately.

[The characters fade out as the scene ends]

Scene 2 – Outside the Exams Hall

  • Tina – That Biology paper was difficult. Blood circulation & Digestion in the same paper
  • Kate – That was easy. How about the question on natural selection?

    [The two continue the discussion as Albert the Head Teacher enters]

  • Albert –Excuse me girls, let us keep it simple and skilful. Do not spend all your time discussing the exams
  • Tina and Kate – Why not, Sir?
  • Albert – because we have better things to do. Our lives have just opened up. For example, what do you believe was your best paper?
  • Tina and Kate – Biology
  • Albert – With Biology you can become a Nurse, Biology Teacher, Doctor, Vet Doctor, Pharmacist, Professor, Research Assistant, etc – the list is endless. What are your career aspirations?
  • Kate – My mother is a nurse, and therefore I am going to be a nurse as well. We can always compare notes after dinner
  • Tina – I plan to become a teacher, because I shall be able to assist far more people
  • Kate – A nurse helps far more people than a teacher; and these are cases of life or death
  • Tina – That is not true. Not everyone who goes to a hospital is about to die. A teacher is the backbone of education, and education is one of the major pillars of life
  • Albert – Hold it. Hold it. Both careers are important. A nurse is taught by a teacher, and a sick teacher is treated by a nurse.
  • Tina – A teacher is better
  • Kate – No, a nurse is far better

    [Voices fade out as the scene ends]

Scene 3 at a Health Facility

The Health Clinic has four small offices – Doctor’s room, Nurses’ examination room, Records/Drugs room, and Sick Bay plus a large waiting room for patients with Wash rooms detached from the main building. The Nurses’ examination room has direct access to the doctor’s office through a door on the left, and access to the Drugs/Records room through a door to the right.

The patients are heard, but not seen. This can be achieved by using live actors off-screen, or pre-recorded voices overlaid with the live action through mixing

The action takes place in the Nurses’ examination room

  • Regina – I have already handled the young lady in labor. She is barely sixteen and she is not sure of herself. She is not due for delivery for at least another four hours, but we should be alert as first time mothers are unpredictable. Tina, talk to the patients – tell them Dr Tom is on his way, even though we do not know what has happened to him. This is 10 am. Kate – collect drugs from the store and check on the patient in the Sick bay. Be sure to complete the Drugs requisition form in triplicate. [In a louder voice] Next patient
  • Tina – [Just outside the office] – Ladies and gentlemen, let us be orderly. Keep the children quiet. I know you have waited a long time. Dr Tom is on his way. Thank you for your patience

    [David and Albert join the patients – but not visible]

  • Regina – Yes, Albert and David – Good morning. Take a seat please; as we wait for Dr Tom [Suddenly Albert coughs uncontrollably]
  • Regina – In that case, Albert come over to the doctor’s office as you might infect the other patients. We shall try to establish very quickly if you have anything serious like Swine fever. Tina please, examine David and Kate handle the next patient from the Records room. [In a louder voice] Next, please.

    [Patients move as directed. Regina and Kate exit through separate doors. Albert enters and is directed to the doctor’s door. David enters, and Tina takes charge]

  • Tina – Yes David, let us start. What exactly is bothering you?
  • David – I am breathless most of the time and I feel light and sometimes faint
  • Tina – OK, we shall handle that. Let me take you through the complete checklist then we shall narrow down your problem, and solve it.
  • David – Thank God you graduated just in time
  • Tina – It is my pleasure to have this chance to pay you back in some small way. My graduation would have been impossible without your efforts

    [Just then Doctor Tom walks in. Excited voices of patients – off-screen]

  • Doctor Tom – hello Tina, Hello David. I had some domestic medical emergency to deal with. The patient has passed the stage of probable death by inattention. I am now ready for the day. Where are Nurse Regina and Kate?
  • Tina – Nurse Regina is handling patient Albert from you office and Kate is working from the records room
  • Doctor Tom – Good. That sounds very well organized. Let me join Nurse Regina

    [Doctor Tom exits to his office. Tina continues to question David as she records the responses. This exchange should be faded out as the scene ends]

November 2009 [Joseph Kavulu]