The Merge of Professions: Nursing and Media

Josiah Jackson-Okesola, Founder & CEO at Nurses on Air Foundation

The Merge of Professions: Nursing and Media

Nursing is a profession that can be merged and married to others, like this guest’s story!

In this episode of the SONSIEL Podcast, we have the pleasure of chatting with Josiah Jackson-Okesola, an African nurse that is also a social media star, strategist, broadcaster, and multi-award-winning nurse innovator, and more. Josiah ended up in the field thanks to his mother, and he quickly developed a passion for it, turning him into one of the most renowned innovators in the space. He knew that opportunities wouldn’t come to him easily, so he started looking out for them. Josiah always knew how to elevate and work with the professionals within the healthcare industry, that is why he has moved to be a career coach for nurses. He also encourages everyone to move investments into the nursing field, as they are the backbone of our healthcare systems.

The power of media can change minds and African nurses are tuning into it to do so, just like Josiah. Tune in to this episode and enjoy! 

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The Merge of Professions: Nursing and Media

About Josiah Jackson-Okesola

Josiah Jackson-Okesola is a licensed professional Nurse Clinician, multi-award-winning nurse innovator, extraordinary global nursing leader, media consultant, digital media broadcaster, mental health therapist, practicing psychotherapist, and public speaker with current international certifications in Basic Life Support (BLS) and Immediate Life Support (ILS).


Over the years, his undying passion for rebranding the battered image of the nursing profession led him to orchestrate, convene and coordinate professional nurses in a series of nursing advocacy projects in partnership with the United Nations; World Heart Federation (WHF), and the Nursing Now Global Campaign.


In recognition of his contribution in the field of nursing leadership and health advocacy, he earned his first international award in 2013 from the highest global nursing body, the International Council of Nurses, Geneva, Switzerland.


He invented the African Nurses TV, a first-of-its-kind online digital media innovative tool by African nurses, and proceeded to win with his team of media broadcasting nurses the highly revered national award, the Nigeria Healthcare Excellence Awards (Media Broadcast Category).


In January 2020, he received an international award from America’s foremost nurse-led media organization – The Truth About Nursing Decade Awards, an award which earned him a coveted seat at the organization’s leadership table, becoming the second African to be appointed as a member of the Advisory Panel for “The Truth About Nursing” U.S.A


Josiah Jackson-Okesola is currently working in the field of Nursing Innovation leading Africa’s foremost network of emerging nurse innovators with a passion for building an enduring synergy with the world’s most outstanding Nurse Innovators while advancing a future for nursing innovation in Africa.


The Founder/CEO, Nurses on Air Foundation; the Chairman, Board of Trustees, Inspire Nurses Network Africa, and the Advisory Board Member, Truth About Nursing, U.S.A has been happily married for over 18 years to his best friend and lover, Lizzy Jackson-Okesola, an equally extraordinary Mental Health Nurse Educator, Substance Abuse Counsellor & Master Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Psychotherapy.


SONSIEL_Josiah Jackson-Okesola : Audio automatically transcribed by Sonix

SONSIEL_Josiah Jackson-Okesola : this mp3 audio file was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the best speech-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors.

Welcome to the SONSIEL podcast, where we host interviews with the most transformational nurse scientists, innovators, entrepreneurs, and leaders. Through sharing their personal journeys, we create inspiration, provide guidance, and give you actionable ideas you can use to be a catalyst for change.

Hiyam Nadel:
Hey everyone, welcome back to the Sun Club podcast. I am really excited to introduce our speaker today, and I have Josiah Jackson-Okesola from the UK. That’s right, from the UK! Josiah, why don’t I have you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about what you’re doing?

Josiah Okesola Jackson:
Thank you very much. I’m so excited to be on your podcast! This evening is some 18:12 hours in the city of Exeter, southwest of England, in Exeter … And I’m excited to be, I’m so delighted to be on your podcast. My name is Josiah Jackson-Okesola. I used to say that I am not just a nurse, I am an extraordinary nurse. And, you know, I come from Africa precisely from Nigeria. And I am an award-winning nurse innovator, I’m a certified media broadcaster, and outstanding global nurse leader, I’m a digital, digital media strategist, social impact artist. And I think, presently, I am transitioning into the career coaching profession so I can see I am a career transformation coach.

Hiyam Nadel:
That is amazing. But first, I want to understand why you went into healthcare. Like, what inspired you to go there?

Josiah Okesola Jackson:
Well, I actually did not plan to go into healthcare. I wanted to be something some, some longer media, media personality, like newscaster or a media broadcaster right from when I was young. But my mom wanted to be a nurse and she couldn’t be a nurse. So she said, you, Josiah, you look after me so much, you’re intelligent, you’re smart. So I could have been a nurse, you have to be a nurse. And so I thought it was a joke until I only knew she was serious about it and then I had to just, you know, give up on that, and so that was how I ended up in nursing. But sincerely speaking, after my first six months in nursing school, which looks so much, too much out of place for me, I came top of the class after six months when the exams, the results came out and I was, I was shocked that I was in the right place. So that was how I started developing interest in the nursing profession. So that was how I ended up in nursing, not by choice, I would say, but by chance, so I won’t say I had a call into nursing, I would say nursing decided to call me. So that’s how I ended up in nursing, and since then I’ve been passionate about the nursing profession.

Hiyam Nadel:
That’s amazing story. And we don’t, we underestimate how much our parents have a lot to do with what career choices we make. But you also said that you initially wanted to be a media broadcaster, and it seems like you’ve married the two now, right? So you have your passion for nursing. And tell us a little bit more about what you do in the media world.

Josiah Okesola Jackson:
So when I was in nursing school, I had a challenge of identifying, I had a challenge with coping with a challenge is that the nursing profession was facing. There were so many, so many things going wrong. For example, I saw that there was a traditional way of nursing, of practicing nursing, which is people get into nursing school, come out of nursing school, get to walk into hospital, retire after 30 years, and boom, that’s all. And I’m like, I am an interesting, I’m restless, innovative, adventurous person, I can’t afford to live that kind of life. So I was asking questions, what are the things I dare to do about nursing? And I realized that the nursing profession actually was being undervalued. And as a young nurse, I felt that the problem was coming from the public, that the public did not understand, would not really … so they’re not giving them the right recognition, they’re not giving them the right opportunities, let me put it that way. They’re not providing the right opportunities for them to explore, to reach the peak of their career. I feel the government does not understand the role of nursing, so they were not actually, particular about investing in nurses. So I decided to say what if the public begins to have a different opinion about nurses? You’ve seen the TV, you see a lot of media misportrayals, people don’t regard nurses. What can we do? What if, what if people began to respect nurses? What if they began to give them the kind of opportunities that would make them explore, that would give them, that would help them spread their wings and fly instead of being in that restricve-like profession. So I came up with the idea what if we could change the public perception of masses? And so because I have always been a media person, got at some point in my career, I began to ask the question, can’t we use the same media that is misportraying the nursing profession and taking away its value, can’t we use it to correct and bring back that value? So that was why I decided to go back to broadcasting school and started media broadcasting because I had always believed in the media as a major tool for transformation. So when I came out of broadcasting school, I think my final project, I was asked what project you want to do? I said, I want to do it, I want to create a radio and TV station for nurses, that nurses can use to actually change the image of the profession. I felt that if anybody should tell the stories about nurses, enlighten the public about nurses, it should not be left for the media to do. They don’t know anything about nurses. Nurses should be the ones telling their own stories to enlighten the people about what to do. So I felt this is an opportunity for me to use the media to do that. So that was our, reinvented our radio program and radio-TV innovation and media innovation where we as nurses go to the media and see everything that people did not know about what nurses really do. And at the end of the day, were like, no, we never believe nurses speak so well, we never believed nurses worked so hard, we never believed nurses have a lot of role to play. We never knew that without nurses, the care system is dead. And so we were able to change a lot of impression of the public about nurses. So the respect started coming back, the values that are coming back. But unfortunately, we discovered that there was a much bigger problem. We’re doing external rebranding of nurses, but internally nursing also was struggling to understand the power of its own profession. African nurses did not actually comprehend how much power they had that was so, we knew that power was cut out for us and that was not the end. I think I should just stop there for now, that is the story about the media stuff.

Hiyam Nadel:
That’s amazing. And what is, what is your current reach? How many people do you think you reach with your radio?

Josiah Okesola Jackson:
Okay, with I radio, so we did, what we did was we decided to use digital innovation. So we did not go with the traditional radio, we went with the online radio, which can incorporate social media, and which can also, which can also reach people to digital media. So presently, let me tell you, presently our, for example, in Nigeria, my country, every, almost every single state has a radio station that is interested in bringing nurses to come and talk on the radio station. And that’s amazing because when we started, and when we started, when I started approaching radio stations, they were like, no, we want doctors, we don’t want nurses. Nobody, nobody, nobody felt nurses has anything to say because the doctors were the authority, everybody recognized doctors as a person who has a final say in healthcare. So one is that they are pushing radio stations? Nobody. They even ask us, you want to talk about how you are you guys give injections because we know nurses give injections. What do you guys have to talk about? So, you can, we realize that when we started in the old country, it was difficult to actually penetrate the media world and ask them to give us a chance to talk on radio. So and that was one of the reasons I informed our saying, oh, if this people are not even bringing us to the table, let’s create our own table, let’s design our own radio. But I can tell you now, as we speak, in my country, Nigeria, almost all the regions in the country are begging nurses to come and speak on radio, giving us the opportunity. That means we have not only covered enlightenment of the public, we have also changed the orientation of the media about nurses so much that they now call on nurses as a main source of information on international this, health this, you know, they want nurses to come on radio and talk about health, talk about people, talk about so many things. So I can say the reach have been nationwide and it’s still ongoing. It’s still an ongoing process. And I believe that with a foundation, with little ground, a lot of nurses have taken up the mantle and they are really, really doing a lot to spread the message, not only in Nigeria, in Africa, we also have a lot of nurses that are taking up that responsibility to use the media to change the image of nursing and the portrayal of nurses in the media.

Hiyam Nadel:
That’s incredible impact, Josiah, it really is. And now, you’re still doing this full time or do you also still see patients?

Josiah Okesola Jackson:
Okay, now, that brings us to, that brings us to where I am presently over the last 20 years of my profession, now 22 years, let me say that, it’s been 22 years now … as a nurse, I’ve practiced in different specialty, I’ve practiced as a mental health nurse sitting with mentally ill patients, which I’m still doing presently, partially, I’ve practiced in the general setting, the surgical ward and the medical world. I’ve practiced in the community as education and advocates in the community. And I also did a lot of work working with nurses, leadership and management, nothing advocacy. But I can tell you that each time I sit down and look at my … and my career journey for two decades, I realized I am more up here, I’m more up here, I’m up here. I realized I’m up here working with nurses, then working with patients. I just.

Hiyam Nadel:
Very interesting, yeah.

Josiah Okesola Jackson:
Yeah. Just discover that each time I spend the major, a part of my life, I’m … in patients. It’s like I’m in a cage, it’s like I’m in, I’m imprisoned, it’s like I’m not living to my full potential, I’m not practicing to my full potential. But every time I work with nurses, I feel like I’m on, at a peak. I feel like I’m on top of the mountain. I feel like I’m the sky. I open the sky spreading my wings and flying! So I was hoping that while many nurses have seen their profession as a patient-oriented profession, focusing on the patient, caring for the sick, which is also what nurses do at a bedside, I have discovered that that is not where my strengths lie. I am an innovator, I am a solution-provider, I am not a task-oriented person, I’m a people-oriented person. Unfortunately, nurses in Africa has been formulated as a task-oriented profession, so I am not … enjoying my stay at a bedside because more, it is more about the task than the people. So I feel if I sit at the bedside and continue to complain, nothing will change. So I decided to step out of the bedside and begin to ask, how can we change the profession from a task-oriented profession to that people-oriented a profession? And the only way we can do that is to invest in the professionals themselves, is to transform the ability and the capacity of the profession. So presently I would say I am more of a career transformation coach for nurses, for healthcare professionals, trying to see how we can explore the journey of nursing professionals to help them to reach their full potentials, practice at the peak of their careers and I am loving every single bit of it. So every time I compare what I do outside of bedside, which I still do anyway, to what I do, what I do is with, every time I compare what I do at the bedside, which I still do anyways, with what I do outside of bedside is so much fun outside the clinical setting, not just staying within the four walls of the hospital and still … patients.

Hiyam Nadel:
And now, Josiah, in my previous experience, I think some nurses still want to do, be or in that task-oriented profession. Do you feel, with your current work, that has changed? So there are some that want to be task-oriented and others do not. Do you feel? I feel like the majority, in my time, wanted to be more task-oriented, but I think that’s changing. And is that what you’re seeing?

Josiah Okesola Jackson:
Yeah. A lot has changed about a nursing profession in Africa, for example. So many things have changed, I must tell you. And what I see change in Africa is let me just go down memory lane while why so many things are changing for us in Africa and the task-oriented profession is gradually becoming something that people are not enjoying, again, I think has to do with the healthcare system in Africa. On April 27, 2001, over 20 years ago, … governments sat together, they made historic pledge to allocate 15% of every country’s budget to the health sector. That was that was a unanimous vow. And that was taken by many African governments then. Now it’s been two decades and that’s probably pronouncement of the voting so much budgeted healthcare has been nothing but lip service. Now there has been so much economic crisis, debt owed by African governments, so much that the healthcare system are so far too much for aid. It has sunk into so much quagmire of political corruption, forcing drastic reduction on the investments in healthcare professionals. And so if you look at every nurse happening in Africa, from Western Africa to Eastern Africa to Southern Africa to Central Africa, Ghana, …, Cameroon, Liberia, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Ghana, Botswana, South Africa, Lesotho, Tanzania, talk about all the African countries. There is only one problem that we’re facing. There is no investment in healthcare professionals, especially nurses. And so it means some of our nurses have been working for over two decades in some of the inhumane work conditions that anyone can think of. And the pandemic came and made everything worse. So people who were supposed to be saving lives as we speak are the ones needing their lives to be saved. And so we can go back to that profession where you have to do a lot of tasks, you have to carry out a lot of responsibilities trying to care for the patient. You can understand that these nurses have been emotionally and psychologically and physically drained over the years, that they are now tired of the task. And that is why many people are now gravitating toward practice, where they do less task but do more of human leadership, management, coordinating the hospital, coordinating the wards. And that is why many nurses are leaving Africa in drums, because they cannot get that kind of opportunity, because the professional Africa is too much task-oriented and nothing is being done to make the job easier. No infrastructure, no instruments. So you can understand that African nurses are now more people-oriented in the ideology, in the, in the way the direction of their profession is going. And that is changing so much with global opportunities opening up for African nurses and they leaving Africa where there is a disadvantaged environment for processing and they come into Western world where the tasks are reduced, but they have to do more intellectual work, they have to do more critical thinking, they have to do more decision making, they have to do more leadership and management of the subordinates like healthcare assistants and stuff like that. And they are beginning to bring out, it’s beginning to bring out the best the potential, each potential in them. Not only that, nurses are now gravitating towards innovation, which I think is a big one for me as it is.

Hiyam Nadel:
It is. I think so, too. And so talking about innovation. How did you, how did you come to know about SONSIEL?

Josiah Okesola Jackson:
Yeah. So, that’s, that takes back to my time when I graduated from nursing school. It was a very, very tough one for me at this stage of my career. When I got out of nursing school, I asked the question, what kind of future do you want to be for your …? What kind of what kind of nurse do you want to be in the future? I was really dissatisfied with the limitations in contact by the older generation of nurses because that was a traditional practice, a monotonous career pathway, get into school, graduate from school, go to the bedside or go to university to teach, or maybe probably be a nurse administrator. Only three pathways, career pathways in nursing. And like I said, those are the bedside where you go into it from a …, and because I’m a person-oriented, I love, I love solving, solving the problems of people, but I don’t carry out tasks. So I, I was consumed with an unquenchable passion and burning zeal to explore the world outside of stereotypes, career pathways that were existing during my time. I wanted to spread my wings and fly, but I didn’t know how to do it. Unfortunately, unfortunately, I looked around my country, I couldn’t find anyone who was doing exactly what I wanted to do. And what is that? Doing something entirely different from the traditional career pathways, bringing innovation to the table, bringing ideas, creativity into medicine. I looked around and I couldn’t find any, so that was a big one for me, so I had to step outside my country, step outside Africa, and begin to look for mentors and people who are doing things differently from the traditional way of doing things. I was searching the Internet,l I was searching everywhere for knowledge, for mentors, for coaches, for more role models. And one day, one day, I’ll find long sites that lasted over 15 years, I stumbled on a YouTube video. It was a TEDx Talk by Rebecca Law, and the words were like, like a thunderbolt. Rebecca and that, ended our Tedx Talk saying, I am a nurse, I am a nurse innovator, I am a … nurse …, you know? And I was like, This is it! This is what I’ve been looking for. Not saying innovation is the answer. I have been a nurse innovator without knowing that I was actually innovating. 2015, 2016, 2018, we were inventing media innovations, were solving problems, but we didn’t know we were not innovators until I stumbled on the third video, TEDx Talk of Rebecca Law, and that was the first time I stumbled on that word as a real globally used, globally acceptable world, nurse innovation, nurse …, nurse innovators. And that was how it caught fire with me. So I followed up with Rebecca and then she introduced me to SONSIEL. I became a member of SONSIEL, and since the day I joined SONSIEL, my life has never been the same again. It’s been a rollercoaster journey.

Hiyam Nadel:
That’s great. And have you attended the hackathons from SONSIEL?

Josiah Okesola Jackson:
Oh, the hackathons! Actually change trajectory for my career joining, I must say. So after following up with SONSIEL and I learnt a lot about nurse innovation, I began to bring in what I was learning to work with a dream, and I realized that we were just having ideas, we didn’t have a framework, we’re not having, we’re not really, really grounded in a field of Mnursing innovation. So when the opportunity of the hackathon came, I was so excited about it that I applied for the hackathon, I joined the hackathon and I’m doing the acting, I thought we had a group of nurses from Africa that did so well trying to coordinate and communicate their plans, their dreams, their aspirations. But I thought because we’re just beginning in a field of nurse innovation, we didn’t do quite so well, until I think someone called me and said, Josiah, did you know that after your team’s presentation, the judges gave you all a standing ovation? Ovation? I said, what? she said, yes, you guys were at a future of innovation in Africa. And that was when I knew that we were in for something big. So after that, the big opportunity came and I got a scholarship to the Drexel University for the Nurse Innovation Scholarship Program, which I tramited from and came back to Africa, looked at what we’ve developed, look at where we’re coming from. And I can tell you that that particular scholarship became the story for me. What we are doing now is massive, Hiyam, and what we’re doing for African nurses is phenomenal, it’s transformational, it’s unprecedented, it’s epoch making. And the only reason why we’re able to get from that level of struggling with nurse innovation to now get to that point of breaking boundaries within the African healthcare system is because I was exposed to opportunities, global opportunities through SONSIEL. I was exposed to global opportunities through the scholarship, and so presently we are changing the future of nursing in Africa through nursing innovation and digital technology.

Hiyam Nadel:
I know, you’re just giving me chills because I sort of went through the same journey, especially around innovation, especially I was an innovator, but really didn’t know that that’s what I was doing and that’s been my passion as well. So I heard you say things that you have accomplished already is amazing. So changing the narrative and educating others about what nurses do. And then I loved what you said, if you’re not invited to the table, then create it. Is there anything else, Josiah, today that you would like to leave the audience with?

Josiah Okesola Jackson:
Yeah, I would like to, to leave the audience with a message. And the message is, without nurses, the healthcare system of any country in the world would be in shambles. Nurses are the backbone of healthcare, nurses are the upbeat of care systems around the world. Lovely innovations like the universal health coverage, the Sustainable Development Goals being driven by global world health leaders would be a mirage if nurses are not well invested in, empowered, and inspired. So there is a need for every one out there to begin to understand that what ever brilliant idea, no matter how much brilliance the ideas are, no matter how much attractive the ideas are, if nurses are not allowed to drive them, even nurses are not empowered and well invested in, to be at the forefront of this brilliant ideas, global ideas, it will not work. We tried it for almost maybe over ten years now, trying to drive universal health coverage, sustainable development goals, but the human resource for health is still a, there still a big gap. So we coming back to the nurses and it means that the nursing profession has a huge potential that is left on top. So I want to tell everyone out there, whether you’re a policy leader, whether you are a decision maker, whether you’re a government official, a politician, a global health leader, without involving nurses, without investing in nurses, the health care system will not flourish. So what I can tell people is just let’s drive more investments, especially in Africa. Let’s drive more investments in nurses and midwives, because they are the future of healthcare in Africa and the rest of the world.

Hiyam Nadel:
I so agree. And I loved everything you’re saying today, Josiah. Thank you for joining me with SONSIEL’s Podcast, it’s amazing.

Josiah Okesola Jackson:
Thank you, Hiyam, for inviting me. It’s an honor to be on the SONSIEL Podcast.

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Things You’ll Learn:

  • Many times, the nursing profession is undervalued. 
  • In an undervalued profession, many nurses go looking for opportunities for themselves on their own.
  • Traditional media has been a tool that misportrays the role of nurses. 
  • Without nurses, the healthcare system is dead. 
  • Some nurses are being innovators without them knowing it. 



  • Connect and follow Josiah Jackson-Okesola on LinkedIn.
  • Get to know more about Josiah on his website. 
  • Follow Nurses on Air Foundation on Facebook
  • Follow Nurses on Air Foundation on Twitter