In healthcare, Ayo Adebiyi found “a gap that I would fill.”
For Ayomidamope (Ayo) Adebiyi, nursing was never “premeditated.”
In 2009, Adebiyi moved from Nigeria, where she had studied communications, to the U.S. for an education in international business. “I was almost someone on the social sciences end,” she recalls. Adebiyi also loved literature—John Grisham books even made her consider law school.
Then, she says, “I stumbled on news on TV one day that was about some 20 weeks old pre-term twins that was born at a hospital in Miami and it just took a hold of me. And the kids survived, less than a pound or so and the fascination of the medical process was just astonishing. And they interviewed the parents on TV and the mom was just acknowledging the nurses.”
Adebiyi was a triplet and her mom lost two kids which Adebiyi attributes in part to incubator shortages, so she describes the moment as a chance to be “reflective” and compare the vast differences between healthcare in Nigeria and the U.S. She said to herself, “If I actually go into healthcare, there is a gap that I would fill.”
She got a job as a CNA, worked in the ICU, went to school at night, got her associates’ degree and then her bachelor’s before pursing her master’s degree in the family nurse practitioner’s program at UCLA.
Along the way, Adebiyi kept that TV story in the back of her mind. She knew that Nigeria’s infant mortality rate was among the highest in the world. She wondered if there might be a way to send incubators there.
“It’s something personal that touches the heart for me,” she explains to Regis Assistant Professor and Nurses’ Station host Lawana Brown. Adebiyi returned to visit Nigeria in 2019 after her daughter was born and spoke with the nurses. A pediatrician told her, “If you really want to make a big impact, the incubators are helpful but we really need to go to communities where women’s education would have really bridged the gap for us.”
Adebiyi stepped in to fill the gap with Care for the Unreached, a non-profit community health outreach program for mothers and infants in rural Nigeria. In June, Ayebiyi was the recipient of an annual fellowship established by the American Nurses Foundation (the Foundation) through a gift from the United Health Foundation (UHF) “to support emerging nurse leaders to integrate their health expertise into new civic and professional opportunities.”
In their wide-ranging conversation, Lawana and Ayo Adebiyi MSN, APRN, FNP-BC, COHC, CEN discuss nursing globally and here in the U.S.