Heart and Science for Health Lydia Nyachiro, Nursing Officer In-Charge Of Medical Surgical Units The Aga Khan Hospital, Kisumu

Lydia Nyachiro’s definition of nursing propels her approach towards her chosen career: “It is a caring profession where you use your heart and science to help those who are unable to help themselves.”

Lydia has come a long way in her 20-year tenure as a nurse. She spent her introductory days at Gendia Mission Hospital where she attained her Certificate in Nursing, then worked as a Community Health Nurse there for two years, before moving and settling at the Aga Khan Hospital as a Nursing Officer In-charge of Medical Surgical Units.

Lydia believes her growth in her nursing career is a result of her time with AKU, both the hospital and the University. They have been very instrumental in pushing her to pursue excellence, thus improving service delivery at her workplace. She was always on the lookout for opportunities to improve herself, so in 2004 she enrolled for a diploma in nursing course at AKU-SONAM.

The distance learning approach was quite new to Lydia. “The tutors used to come from Aga Khan Nairobi to Kisumu once a month. We had a room here in the hospital that we converted into a classroom. The hospital was and still is very supportive, giving us time to go to class and then come to work. We would do assignments and submit them online.” Her childhood dreams had come true: she had a diploma in nursing, but Lydia did not feel she had reached her peak. In 2012, under full scholarship from the Aga Khan Hospital, Lydia went back to school for a BScN. The upgrade was important. “Nursing is dynamic. We live in a changing world. Different challenges at work fuelled the urge to improve my knowledge and skills.”

It was off to AKU-SONAM again, but this time, Lydia and her colleagues had to travel to Nairobi for lessons. The commute to and from Nairobi and having to work was exhausting, but it was all worth it. Lydia was amazed by the course approach, the materials and the relevance it had to her work. She is pleased with the role her training has played in making her the nurse she is today.

Nurses and Midwives - Leaders in Healthcare in East Africa story series reflect the depth and diversity of the nursing and midwifery profession in East Africa. Download a copy of the coffee book for free here

Finding, capturing and documenting these stories was a collective effort of many individuals and institutions. At the very beginning were the investments made by the Johnson & Johnson Corporate Citizenship Trust, the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KFW), the Lund Family and Rotary International that brought the nursing and midwifery training programme to life.

These partners provided scholarships, support for programme development and faculty investments that were pivotal in enabling the Aga Khan University School of Nursing and Midwifery (AKU-SONAM) to recruit a diverse set of students and build innovative, pragmatic academic programmes

We hope that these stories will continue to inspire, challenge and show the power of nurses and midwives for years to come.