Raphael Musyoka is a tough man to track down. He is not only busy, but also very reserved. The 63-year-old does not like the limelight and avoids being put on the spot. However, he has a remarkable story that needs to be told. Raphael is 63 years old and still wanted to get a degree...why? He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing in 2019. AKU’s Martie Mtange caught up with him and shares his story.
What was your childhood like? Did you always want to be a nurse?
I grew up in Machakos County, in the eastern part of Kenya. Growing up in the 50s was much easier than it is now. However, access to quality healthcare was still a challenge in my community. When I completed secondary school in 1977, I signed up for a diploma in nursing at the Kenya Medical Training College, which was known as MTC those days. I wanted to be a registered nurse.
And your dream came true…
Yes, I graduated and worked for three years then registered for an advanced diploma in midwifery. Upon completion of the nine-month programme, I was posted to Moyale, which is in the north-eastern part of Kenya. I later was moved to Machakos District Hospital which is in my hometown. In 1992, I quit my job at Machakos District Hospital and set up Tana Medical Clinic - Tana means ‘to smile’. I knew I’d be filling a gap because Machakos District Hospital was the only referral hospital in the area, and I wanted to bring quality health services to the people.
What inspired you to start your own clinic?
In my early working years, it was very tough. Resources were limited – especially at the maternity unit, where I was working. You would see a patient die because basic drugs were not available. The process of getting drugs from outside was tedious and by the time they arrive, the patient would have developed other complications that needed other drugs. It then hit me that if I could take my knowledge and skills back home, and provide excellent health services to my people, including getting the necessary medication to patients on time, I’d be happy.
Why did you choose to pursue a degree at 63?
It’s always been my dream to go back to school since 1984. I really wanted to do a degree in nursing, but at the time, the only option was to study abroad. I did not want to leave my family and clinic. However, I knew it wasn’t a lost cause and I would complete my studies one day.
Why did you enroll at AKU?
My attraction to the School of Nursing and Midwifery at AKU was that they enrolled working nurses into the degree programme. This means you don’t have freshers (students straight from high school) competing with you to join the programme. The course was flexible in timing meaning that I could still operate my clinic from Wednesday to Sunday, and still continue with my studies.
What was your AKU experience like?
I enjoyed interacting with my classmates and lecturers because they were very warm and respectful towards me, they didn’t treat me any different just because of my age. I found a lot of teamwork at AKU. The lecturers were very supportive and were willing to respond to any questions I had. Use of technology was a bit challenging but the staff at the library were very helpful at all times.
Did you face any challenges?
The only challenge was the commute to and from home. My home is around 105 kilometres away from the campus, so I used to drive 420 kilometres over two days. It was very exhausting so I decided to stay at a relative’s home in Nairobi during class sessions then go back home on Wednesday. It was hard at first, but I knew I had a bigger purpose to fulfil.
What are your future ambitions?
AKU-SONAM helped improve my knowledge and skills in solutions to healthcare needs in my community. Healthcare is very dynamic, especially with the advancement of technology use – so I learned how to keep up with these changes. I believe I’m now well equipped to provide the best in healthcare for my clinic. My focus now is to keep running my clinic and expand the services from outpatient to inpatient services.