Physician Couple Learns and Grows During Black History Month

Feb 16 2023

Springfield, Ohio is a long way from Nigeria. But for two of our physicians, Black History Month brings lessons from both of these places that they call home.

Nneoma and Luke Onuorah (pictured above) both grew up in Nigeria, in the same circle of friends. Nneoma’s father was a pharmacist, and her mom had a degree in biology as well as chemistry.

“I grew up in a science family… for me all I knew was science,” Nneoma shares.

The couple started dating after medical school and then relocated to the United States, and eventually to Ohio. Today, they both work in our Springfield market — Nneoma as a rheumatologist and Luke as an infectious disease physician.

“The history of an African is not the same as that of an African American,” Nneoma explains. “I come from a region where everyone is Black. So, I learned about the impact of the color of my skin in America.”

Nneoma adds that in Nigeria, Black History Month isn’t celebrated. However, as a physician in the United States, she is regularly told by her Black patients, “thank you for becoming a doctor.”

“Their gratitude has made me want plug in to our history and want to give back,” she shares. “I use this time to listen more, and to learn what challenges other ethnicities face when feeling like a minority.”

Her husband, Luke, was who inspired her to come work for Mercy Health just two months ago.

“Luke had been with the ministry for a few years and was having a great experience here,” she says.

Both Nneoma and Luke are enjoying their careers with our ministry, especially with their patients.

“It is a privilege to serve them, and we are happy to give back in this capacity,” she adds.

In terms of Black History Month, Nneoma sums her feelings up in one sentence: “I want to grow from our collective strength and support one another.”

“The older we get, the more we embrace our culture,” Nneoma continues. “We use Black History Month as an opportunity to wear Nigerian clothing and share our Nigerian heritage with our daughters, who are now ages 8 and 6. Our goal is to be an ambassador of where we come from, in a country where diversity is our strength.”

Nneoma and Luke plan to take their daughters to Nigeria for their first trip as soon as this year.  

“I want them to go to their ancestral homes and to step on the soil of their heritage,” Nneoma says.

Read more Black History Month stories about our team members.

Also, learn about the health care services we provide at Mercy Health.

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