Priscilla Adu-Poku


I was born and raised in Scarborough, but my ancestral roots are Ghanaian. My diverse background highly influenced my worldview, more specifically, how much I valued formal education. As such, I attended Ryerson, Centennial, and George Brown Collaborative Nursing Degree Program and obtained my Bachelors in Nursing and Durham College, where I earned my post-graduate certificate in Critical Care. I work as a Registered Nurse in a Peri- Anaesthesia care Unit with over 4 years’ experience caring for patients after surgery. Currently, I am shifting my nursing specialty toward emergency medicine. I strive to apply the knowledge and skills that I have learned and also influence other people through my nursing blog. 

When you were a child, did you envision becoming what you are now?

As a child, I remember sitting on the carpet in my kindergarten class and the teacher asking the class, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I would answer “A Firefighter!” from that point through to my late teens; my answer to this question probably changed about 20 times. I did not start seriously considering my career path until I got to high school, and even then, I only did it because everyone else around me was. I still did not have any real direction up until that moment. As a student, I understood the importance of achieving and maintain good grades and worked hard to ensure my academic performance did not drop below the average level. However, after my high school graduation, I let a couple of general admission offers from universities in the city expire. After high school, I decided to use the following year to better my grades on my transcript and decide upon a career path that would best suit me.

My decision to get into the nursing profession was an informed one. I did not wake up one morning just knowing that I would be a nurse; rather, I took the time to analyze my skill set, my personal preferences, and the current job market. This too, did not happen overnight; it took time, prayers, and a lot of self-reflection before settling upon the decision. 

Can you please tell us about your journey? When did you first think to yourself, “I made it?”

After finally settling upon a career path, I decided to invest all my energy and time into attaining my goal. The four-year undergraduate nursing program was very rigorous and both mentally and physically exhausting. I had to dig deep within myself to finish the course, as quitting was never part of my plan. It was this idea that enabled me to complete the 4-year program within the allotted four years. 

I first felt the sense of making it after I successfully wrote my nursing licensing exam, which I took a couple of months after graduation. At the time, I worked as a nurse under a temporary license, and the only thing between me and my career was the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). I still remember the day I found out my test results. I was in the middle of one of my shifts when my sister informed me that my results had arrived in the mail. I told her to open it, and I remember thinking to myself that I would finish out my shift for the day regardless of the result. She sent over a picture of the result, and I scanned the paper for the words “PASSED.” Seeing the official pass gave me a sense of pride and satisfaction. It made everything I had endured worth it. 

Did you face any challenges on your journey to get where you are? Do you currently face any challenges?

The journey to success is always filled with challenges. These obstacles that we come across in our endeavors to be a better person, should spice our journey rather than derail us from pursuing our dreams. There will be problems in pursuing excellence, and we should be ready to handle these issues head-on. Therefore, we should have the required courage to face all that come our way. A nurse is expected to be ready to face anything in life without fear, for we are the saviors of humankind. Financial constraints has been a stumbling block when seeking progression in our careers. Nursing career has been a headache during these COVID-19 times, as we are required to face everything bravely. This challenge was unexpected, but we have managed to be vigilant despite the fear and dangers facing us on the front line. As a black woman, people have not always approved my efforts, but I have been more vigorous in unleashing my potential. You should not look for validation from others despite your background but work to improve yourself. Eventually, you will be satisfied when you achieve your long-time dreams and aspirations. 

What skills do you believe a person needs to succeed in your profession?

Nursing combines sciences and arts. After acquiring solid nursing foundational knowledge, you will need to work on the art portion of nursing throughout your career to promote health for your patients. There are many skills that a nurse will need to succeed, and the following three are the most important for me in the nursing career:

The important first skill is communication. A nurse is a link between the patient and other medical practitioners. Therefore, communication skills are essential in delivering quality services. When one has acquired the skills, they can offer the best services to their patients, thus improving the patients’ health.

Secondly, good organization skills will lead to better patient outcomes, less work-related stress, and ample time to plan for every activity. Adequate organizational skills help in planning the schedule for daily activities. This planning reduces the chances of errors that would have resulted from rushing in doing various activities.

Thirdly, every nurse is required to have compassion for the patients. A nurse is expected to have the urge to help the patient reduce their pain and suffering. When driven by this virtue, the nurse will aim at delivering quality services to the patients.

Having compassion allows you to understand others’ needs to be addressed appropriately, and wellness and health can be promoted.

Can you please share one goal you achieved that you are extremely proud of?

For most of my career, I’ve been working as a Peri-Anesthesia Care Nurse. I’ve recently decided to change my nursing specialty, and now I’m beginning a new journey as an emergency nurse. In pursuit of this change, I had to let go of my secured full-time job and give up not working nights and weekends to work in a busy, high-stress environment. It’s only been a month into the new job, and besides what everyone has told me, I know I’ve made the right decision. 

What advice would you give to others who aspire to be where you are?

For anybody planning to be a great nurse, know that your dream career journey will not always be smooth but forge ahead. I can attest that the future is bright. Please take all the challenges positively and try to derive something positive from them. Nothing should come between you and your dreams of being a nurse.