Prof Vhonani Netshandama is a trained mental health nurse and midwife. She spent most of her early career years training students to become nurses and nurse managers. She started at the University of South Africa (UNISA) where she taught Health services management and later on joined the University of Venda where she taught everything from Bio-chem and bio-physics for nurses to general nursing, nursing management and mental health. She later on became more interested in community problem based nursing education health. In her DCur, she investigated a question of what it means for a university to be in partnership with the community and what is entailed in the concept of partnership with communities. She developed a model and standards for partnership between a nursing education institution and a community. She has assumed roles as both interim HOD of the Department of Nursing and assisted the dean of the school of Health Sciences. She spent a couple of years as a coordinator of community engagement programmes for the university including international programmes that have community based programmes embedded in it. In 2006, she was a visiting scholar at the University of Virginia, school of nursing. The role included coordinating work integrated learning, and partnerships with communities, industries, local FET college and other stakeholders. From 2005 and 2008, she was an academic coordinator for the Community Development Workers Programme in the Limpopo Province. She was part of the reference group that worked on the development of training material for traditional leadership and community development in behalf of the Local Government SETA. She also assisted in facilitating some of the programmes.
Vhonani has served the maximum 3 terms at the Programme Accreditation Committee of the Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC) in the Council on Higher Education (CHE). She also served as a board member for Vhembe FET College and was responsible for the academic board subcommittee of council. She is an executive board member of the South African Higher Education Community Engagement forum, a board member of a UNIVEN Income Generation Centre (UIGC) and of several non profit organisations. Vhonani has worked with several community based organisation including international non profit organisations.
Her research areas include amongst others the role of community engagement in social transformation, Education for Social Justice and responsible citizenry, school partnership for development, the role of volunteerism in development and in grooming students to be responsible citizenship, Water and heath as well as mental health. Vhonani enjoys working with students on community engagement work and has mentored a significant number of students in this regard.
Being a strong believer of working together for common purpose, Vhonani has initiated and coordinated several collaborative initiatives both locally and internationally. She is the current lead project manager for Vhembe District Skills development initiative (2013-2015) an area which she passionately developed in the past 3 years. Her vision is to develop well rounded graduates that are socially responsible and development savvy. She looks forward to opportunities for youth learnerships and internship programmes that are community based.