Empowering Nurses in Healthcare, Empowering Africa

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The art of caring for patients is essentially collaborative. In medicine, it is fundamental to have a team approach in everything that you do and to have a supportive environment that requires multiple disciplines to engage in caring for their patients so as to optimize outcomes.

Physicians and nurses play distinctive and complementary roles in healthcare delivery: It’s a no brainer that working as partners yields better results. Similar to the saying “behind every successful man is a great woman,” so, too, beside every successful doctor is a competently caring nurse.

My nurse midwives and I at Jacaranda health

My nurse midwives and I at Jacaranda health


Towards More Equality

Healthcare systems and service delivery is constantly evolving. Developed countries are on an upward trajectory, having tested and proven functional health systems. Developing countries are looking up to the developed countries to figure out effective and sustainable models that foster good outcomes. All in all, one has to admit that developing countries are striving to catch up. Discussions are underway and road maps have been designed to positively shift the direction of overall healthcare delivery.

Historically, the physician was the patriot, always sitting on the top, while the nurses played the role of the handmaiden. The landscape has dramatically shifted — society is now understanding the impact of each cadre and their distinctive role and contribution as it pertains to patient care and outcomes. In my experience in the United States, nurses have an active role at the table and participate in the decision making process. Their voices and opinions are not limited to bedside patient care, but also on improving the health care system, e.g. budget, research, best practices, etc. Here too, we are beginning to see greater autonomy and rigour in the role of the nurse and their contributions in  health system strengthening.


A speaking engagement in Las Vegas at The Annual American Association of Neuroscience Nurses conference

A speaking engagement in Las Vegas at The Annual American Association of Neuroscience Nurses conference



Over the years, the role of the physician has been clearly defined with a clear hierarchy on one’s organizational chart. The role of Medical Director in a hospital setting is not new or foreign. On the other hand, I remember growing up in the 80s and 90s, when the highest-ranking nurse was the Matron. Don’t get me wrong; this was a powerful role. But when put side by side, Medical Director and Matron, which role resonates as being powerful?

The role of nurses in healthcare has evolved to one that demands authority in healthcare — Director of Nursing and Chief Nursing Officer are now roles you hear when you walk in the corridors of a hospital in Kenya. There is now a role of a nurse that demonstrates the value of the nurse in the current ecosystem, in strategically setting the tone for patient care services in hospital settings, and, likewise, the direction of healthcare and health policy in Kenya.

As the role of nursing emulates that in developing countries, specialization is the new frontier — a defined shift from a technical to an expert contributor to the team. Academic centres are strengthening their curricula by incorporating courses in leadership and core specialties, e.g. psychiatric nursing and perioperative nursing, but there are added opportunities in other specialties, such as neuroscience nursing, etc. A great example is Strathmore University in Nairobi, Kenya, that has designed a robust executive leadership program for healthcare professionals, prioritizing the business of healthcare — a demonstration that our education system values bringing health executives to the table and strengthening their leadership in the business of healthcare — because healthcare is a business!

This was a primary catalyst to my moving back to Nairobi — to participate in the upward momentum that is positively shifting and prioritizing healthcare as it links to a nation’s productivity.


Embracing what I do at Jacaranda Health!

Embracing what I do at Jacaranda Health!



A Powerful Profession

I take pride in the nursing profession and strongly believe that the sky’s the limit. My personal growth and professional development is a testimony that opportunities are many — one has to have the will, the resilience and focus to want to succeed. I have learned that, once you understand your worth, nothing and no one can put you down.

Understanding one’s value sheds light on the impact one can make. More importantly, the gratification one gets through positively touching individual lives and that of families and communities accelerates one’s need to contribute more in improving our society at large.  A nurse is a care provider, an educator, a researcher, an administrator, a policy maker, a leader — a change maker.

It is important for nurses around the world to celebrate and embrace their contribution to society and actively engage in defining successful healthcare and health systems within the communities they serve in Africa and beyond.


Nurses in Healthcare

An Empowered Team