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How Kenyan woman was named Chief Pathologist and Director at US Medical firm

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Dr Asha Chepkorir Sigei-Rono, who was recently appointed as the chief Pathologist and Medical Director of an American establishment is all smiles after accomplishing her long held dream of not only becoming a doctor but also making it count.

A statement released by the hospital showed Sigei had been appointed as the new Chief Pathologist and Medical Director of the Iredell Memorial Laboratory. It read:

Iredell Health System is pleased to welcome Asha Sigei, MD, MMCi, as the new Chief Pathologist and Medical Director of the Iredell Memorial Laboratory.

Sigei, of Piedmont Pathology, has four years of residency experience in anatomic pathology and clinical pathology, one year of experience in hematopathology, and one year of experience working in clinical informatics.

She is a medical graduate of the University of Nairobi School of Medicine in Kenya and completed a year-long internship in Kenya before moving to the United States. In the U.S., Sigei received her Master of Management in Clinical Informatics from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. She completed her pathology residency program through East Tennessee State University and completed a one-year hematopathology fellowship through the Medical University of South Carolina.

As the Chief Pathologist and Medical Director of the laboratory, Sigei will oversee the clinical functions of the lab and help ensure accurate diagnostic testing for each and every patient.”

“At Iredell, I hope to promote the practice of pathology through patient-centric care,” she said.

In her new role, Sigei is most excited about working with all the people at the hospital.

Sigei is board-certified through the American Board of Pathology. She is also a member of the Association of Pathology Informatics, the College of American Pathologists, the American Society for Clinical Pathology, and the American Society of Cytopathology.

She received the East Tennessee State University Excellence in Pathology Award in 2018, 2019, and 2020. Sigei also was awarded “Outstanding Healthcare Professional of the Year” from Kericho District Hospital, Kenya in 2012.

Iredell Health System is a nonprofit organization that is locally owned and managed. This means there are no shareholders to pay dividends to. All profits remain in the community to maintain and upgrade technology, to employ a highly skilled staff and to provide health and wellness services to serve the community. The buildings and grounds of Iredell Memorial Hospital are owned by the citizens of Iredell County. The hospital receives no tax dollars and is leased from Iredell County by a local board of trustees. The operation of the hospital is the responsibility of a board of directors elected by, and chosen from among, the trustees.

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“At Iredell,  I hope to promote the practice of pathology through patient-centric care,” she said following the appointment.

Kalenjin online, a social media platform wrote:

Dr. Asha Sigei an alumni of the University of Nairobi has been appointed as the new Chief Pathologist and Medical Director of the Iredell Memorial Laboratory in the United States of America. Congratulations Daktari!

Today, she is not only a trained medical doctor, but the chief pathologist and medical director at the Iredell Memorial Laboratory in the United States.

Getting there took sweat, sacrifice, and perseverance.

Asha Sigei graduated from the University of Nairobi (UoN) with a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB.), in 2010 before relocating to the US.

Sigei’s Key roles As the Chief Pathologist and Medical Director of the laboratory, the medic will oversee the clinical functions of the lab and help ensure accurate diagnostic testing for every patient.

The young medic said she is most excited about working in her new role with all the people at the hospital. Experience in medicine According to the statement, Sigei of Piedmont Pathology has four years of residency experience in anatomic and clinical pathology.

She also has one year of experience in hematopathology and one year of experience working in clinical informatics. After completing her course at the UoN, she undertook a year-long internship in Kenya before moving to the United States.

According to her LinkedIn profile, Sigei received her Master of Management in Clinical Informatics from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, in the US.

She finished her pathology residency program via East Tennessee State University and completed a one-year hematopathology fellowship through the Medical University of South Carolina.

“Sigei is board-certified through the American Board of Pathology,’ read the statement. Memberships She is also a member of the Association of Pathology Informatics, the College of American Pathologists, and the American Society for Clinical Pathology.

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Sigei is also a member of the American Society of Cytopathology. She received the East Tennessee State University Excellence in Pathology Award in 2018, 2019, and 2020. The medic was also awarded outstanding Healthcare Professional of the Year from Kericho District Hospital, Kenya, in 2012.

Dr Sigei revealed that her father was a taxi driver while her mother made mandazi that she sold to neighbours and in Kericho town to supplement her husband’s meagre income.

The family owned three cows which Dr Asha helped graze in the slums at weekends and during holidays.

“We did not have much, but we had what was necessary,” she says.

After her KCPE exam at Matobo Primary School, Asha joined Kipsigis Girls High School after her father announced he would sell his taxi car to pay for the school fees.

“He said he was not able to pay college fees for any of us. He said he could only afford to pay fees for us up to high school,” she recalls.

“My fear was that my education would end at  Form Four. But luckily, things worked out in different ways and sometime the miraculous happens,” she says.

She says that her mother, Leah Sigei, had just died after being hit by a car while crossing the road to go sell mandazi.

She scored a straight A in he KCSE exam.

“I was so happy after scoring an excellent grade. But after celebrations, my father, so anxious, asked me, ‘Asha, how could you have scored an “A” yet you know very well that we do not have money? Now what will I do?’” she remembers.

“It wasn’t that my father was mad at me; it was more about what was unfolding for us. I had applied for an engineering course, but my father advised me to apply for a medical course,” she says.

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Dr Rono with her father Ali Sigei. [Courtesy]

She was admitted to the University of Nairobi, School of Medicine,  in 2005 from where she graduated in 2010.

Ashe later interned at Kericho Hospital, where she was awarded for being the best medical professional.

“It was a pleasant experience for me working from home. I was not being paid much, but with the earning, I could support my siblings and father. I was happy to help people,” she says.

At the facility, she started a blood transfusion committee that she chaired.

She ensured blood was given in a safe way and if someone had a reaction, she had to know why it happened, and what they could do.

In 2013, she got married and moved to the United States where her husband was living. Her husband, Denis Rono, is a psychiatrist nurse practitioner.

In the US, she enrolled for master’s in management in clinical informatics at Duke University in North Carolina.

In 2019, she applied for pathology residency programme through East Tennessee State University and completed one year hematopathology fellowship, making diagnosis of cancer of blood.

In 2021, she further enrolled for a one-year fellowship at the Medical University of South Carolina.

“I think I am good at what I do. Having a master’s in clinical informatics boosted my chances against other applicants,” she says.

Comparing healthcare in Kenya and the US, she says that though Kenyan medics are well trained, lack of medical equipment hinders their work.

“What is learnt in medical school in Kenya and abroad is the same. However, practising in Kenya is different from practising in the US because at home, you want to give the best but you lack equipment,” she says.

“Looking back, I feel practicing medicine in Kenya is frustrating. For example you would want to conduct an X-Ray or CT scan, but the machines are broken. Hospitals lack even simple items like gloves,” she told a local daily

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