The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Celebrating our international nurses - Dolapo Ajayi

11 May 2021

We are celebrating our nurses, midwives and operating department practitioners (ODPs) in a two-week long celebration during May that takes in the international recognition days for each profession. Today we're putting the spotlight on our international nurses - celebrating the contributions of nurses from around the world who have come to Leeds. It's over to Dolapo Ajayi, Senior Research Nurse, to tell us a bit about her role and profession.

Dolapo AjayiDolapo: My motivation to become a nurse was spurred by two reasons: my passion to help the sick and also my love for the nurse’s uniform. I qualified as a registered nurse and a certified midwife in 1982 and 1985 respectively in Nigeria. I worked in one of the most prestigious university teaching hospitals for 18 years before immigrating to the United Kingdom. Most of those years were in the capacity of charge nurse. As an ambitious nurse the opportunity to attain greater heights in my career abroad was very appealing. England was a country of choice because years earlier I visited England on holiday - I was unfortunately admitted to hospital following an infection with Malaria. I was very impressed with the care I received, the environment and how orderly things were being done. 

I joined LTHT in 2002 as a band 5 staff nurse which was below my pay grade prior to my arrival in England. I came to the UK with high hopes but struggled initially with cultural difference challenges. I felt I was not able to be myself. For example, in Nigeria you greet everyone you come across, whereas here I had many instances where I greeted people and not got a response. I started to feel as if I had committed a crime each time I said “hello”, “good morning”, etc to people. There have also been instances where I am perceived negatively when I am expressing myself due to differing interpretations of body language cues, tone and volume of voice when engaging in conversations with colleagues and patients. This has made me have an interest in other people’s cultures and how awareness and understanding or lack of has an impact on interpersonal relationships in the workplace.

Nigerian flagLTHT is the first and only hospital I have worked for in the UK. I would say that the things I admire most at LTHT is the consistency in mandatory training and accountability in whatever we do. However, I deeply miss being in my home country sometimes, the familiarity and the weather. Every winter season I wish I was in Nigeria! My faith has been my rock that has given me resilience to live happily away from home. I love LTHT for giving the opportunity to persist and continue to do my very best in delivering quality care and supporting colleagues especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nursing is a great vocation that gives you a deep sense of purpose. I do not regret choosing nursing as a career and would highly recommend the profession to others.