USA: Ghanaian Nancy Abu-Bonsrah – First Black Female Neurosurgeon At Johns Hopkins Hospital

Nancy Abu-Bonsrah from Ghana Becomes First Black Female Neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins





Nancy Abu-Bonsrah


It’s known as Match Day – an event during the third Friday of March where fourth-year medical students across the country learn where they’ll be going to further develop their skills in pursuit of a career in medicine. While many of these students were undoubtedly pleased and excited about where they had landed, there may not have been a more significant match than Nancy Abu-Bonsrah, with the institution where she’s heading.

That’s because Ghanaian Nancy Abu-Bonsrah becomes the first black female Neurosurgeon at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. Abu-Bonsrah left Ghana at the age of 15, and has been in the U.S for nearly 11 years. The first physician in her family, including the extended family, Abu-Bonsrah was matched with Johns Hopkins Hospital to specialize in Neurological Surgery.

The match made her the first black female neurosurgeon at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. Abu-Bonsrah will spend seven more years at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, where she would get hands-on experience in her field.

According to the Johns Hopkins news release, prior to Match Day, students complete lengthy paperwork, and on-site interviews with hospitals, then provide a ranked list of their top choices. Hospitals submit a similar list, indicating openings, preferred students, and specialty or generalist preferences. Each applicant is matched via computer algorithm to the hospital residency program that is highest on the applicant’s list, and has offered the applicant a position. Johns Hopkins students are often matched with their first- or second-choice sites.

Abu-Bonsrah, according the John Hopkins medical news release spent the first 15 years of her life in Ghana and came to Maryland 11 years ago. She attended Hammond High School in Columbia, Maryland and went to college at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Maryland, after which, right after her undergrad, she went to Johns Hopkins .

Abu-Bonsrah further stated in the news release that she is very much interested in providing medical care in under-served settings, specifically surgical care. The Ghanaian hopes to return to her country over the course of her career to help in building sustainable surgical infrastructure.


Her match to Johns Hopkins Hospital for neurological surgery is a dream come true for her. She says she wants to be remembered for serving her community either through providing quality surgical care or mentoring the next generation of surgeons.

“I am very much interested in providing medical care in under-served settings, specifically surgical care,” she said in a statement. “I hope to be able to go back to Ghana over the course of my career to help in building sustainable surgical infrastructure. I will be matching into neurosurgery, a field that I am greatly enamoured with, and hope to utilize those skills in advancing global surgical care.”

Nancy’s husband, Kwabena, is also studying medicine as a 3rd-year medical student at University of Maryland. Her moment is extra special, as she will be the first physician in her family.

“I want to be remembered for serving my community, whether it is through providing quality surgical care or helping mentor the next generation of surgeons. Everything is special about the match. It will be a dream come true.”

Abu-Bonsrah attended Johns Hopkins University school of Medicine alongside her husband, and participated in the Match Day, which took place on the 17th of March. The event took place on the second floor of the Anne and Mike Armstrong Medical Education Building at 1600 McElderry St. in Baltimore, Maryland.

Current residents in the Johns Hopkins neurosurgery program are from such undergraduate institutions as Harvard, Yale, NYU, Columbia and Stanford, however the institution has never had an African-American female trained in neurosurgery in 124 years.

According to 2016 data from the National Resident Matching Program there were only .6 positions available per applicant in neurological surgery, making it one of the most competitive specialties in the match process. Additionally, Doximity, an online network for U.S. healthcare professionals, ranks Johns Hopkins third in the country in reputation for its neurological surgery program, making Abu-Bonsrah’s accomplishment even more remarkable.

In a Facebook post, Abu-Bonsrah said:

What a way to begin the Sabbath! I still haven’t processed it yet but this is such an honor and a privilege to join the department at Hopkins to begin this next phase of my career. I’m so fortunate to have the continued support of my husband, family, friends and mentors. Kwabena and I are excited for what’s ahead! #match2017 #glorytoGod #wemadeit #sevenmoreyears #Neurosurgery #firstfemaleAAatHopkins

There has been an outpour of congratulations from social media. We wish Nancy Abu-Bonsrah all the best in her medical career.