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Emmanuel Okrah

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Emmanuel Okrah was born in the United States while his parents were studying at the University of Maryland. He went back to Ghana with them when they graduated and was raised in Ghana. Emmanuel graduated college with a degree in nursing and worked at a hospital in several departments. He moved to the US for economic reasons and worked for a year to transfer his Ghanaian nursing credentials to the US. He has received his nursing credentials and is now a registered nurse in the US and can begin working.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Please contact Immigration History Research Center staff for permissions not covered by this Creative Commons license.

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Living and working abroad especially in the United States is an idea entertained by many young professionals all across the African continent. Opportunities, career advancements and better quality of life has driven a lot of young professionals to The United States and that was so in my case. For same reason I moved here from Ghana where I was raised.

I worked as a Registered Nurse in Ghana before moving here in June 2011.The process of transferring my professional credentials as a nurse was not as easy.

After high school I wanted to read economics at the university of Ghana but my grade in math could not get my admission in the university for such program. I had read about nursing so I decided to study that. After four years I graduated, took the nursing exam, and began working in a hospital. I worked in both a medical and a surgical unit. We had a lot of patients. So many that sometimes we would have to put mattresses on the floor. As a nurse in Ghana we attended to a lot of patients; there is a very high patient to nurse ratio.

The dominant case we treated was malaria. There were others like cardiac issues, diabetes and some not as common like meningitis. And there were malnourished kids. I worked in Oncology for a while but didn’t like it. Patients had cancer but they couldn’t afford treatment. The doctors and nurses did what they could to help them, but it was a cash and carry system so if you couldn’t pay then you couldn’t get treatment.

Working at the OR during my rotational period was more enjoyable, especially working children with cleft palate. When we removed the bandages after they have undergone repair was the smile that comes on their face are just amazing.

I worked in Ghana for one-and-a-half years and I decided to come to the US for economic reasons. My mom was indifferent and the rest of my family supported it. A couple of my cousins lived here in Virginia outside Washington DC so I moved there.

The whole process of becoming a registered nurse in the US took an entire year. The first step was for the Nursing Board to evaluate my academic credentials to assess my qualification to take the examination for Registered Nurses in the US. They needed documents from me and my school to clarify if my program was up to the standard of the US. While administrative tasks like getting transcripts are easy in the US, they are not as smooth in Ghana. After submitting a form, I had to call to follow up and pay people money to get it sent to me. It took about a month. After evaluating my transcript From Ghana, the Nursing Board of California found me eligible to take the board exam (NCLEX) for my license as a Registered Nurse here in The United States. The Ghanaian nursing board had multiple choice and five essays and was more about the practice and application of nursing. In the US, the boards are all multiple choice and each question can have several correct answers, but you have to choose the one that is the MOST accurate.

Also, for the US exam you have to know about most medications and their side effects and outcomes. It was not an easy transition, it's was quite a different system, standard and required a lot a reading. In March 2017 I passed the nursing exam and became a registered nurse in the US. Now I am transferring my registration to Virginia and will start working as a nurse soon.