She was born on 13 August 1919 at Odumase, Manya Krobo and had her early education at local Presbyterian schools that had been established by European missionaries: first an infant school and then Krobo Girls Senior High School.
In her teens, she sometimes accompanied her grandmother (Princess Esther Clara Naki Sackitey, Gold Coast’s (Ghana) first Basel Trained Midwife) when she went to deliver a baby.
She advanced to the Achimota School in Accra, where she obtained her Cambridge Higher School Certificate in 1938, and in 1940 she enrolled at the Korle-Bu maternity hospital for nursing training with emphasis on midwifery.
In 1943, she embarked on a professional nursing and further training. Since nursing education in Ghana was not yet fully developed, in order to be eligible for senior posts under colonial rule, she had to spend some time in the 1950’s training for further qualifications in England.
In 1961 she was made Chief Nursing Officer of the newly independent Ghana: her job title inherited from the earlier British system. She wanted to work towards having some university graduates within the nursing profession. As a first
She wanted to work towards having some university graduates within the nursing profession. As a first step, a two-year “post-basic” diploma program to train nursing educators and administrators was established in 1963 through a three-way agreement between the World Health Organisation (WHO), UNICEF and the Ghanaian government. It attracted nurses from other English-speaking countries in the region as well as from within Ghana.
At the same time, she oversaw a move away from the traditional British hospital-based system to a more community-based kind of healthcare better suited to the Ghanaian society. She developed a new curriculum for nurses, sponsored by the WHO, which emphasized on public health and community nursing care with good support for maternal and child health.
She also established a scholarship fund for some nurses to train abroad until a more in-depth education was available locally. She was a lecturer at the Department of Nursing at the University of Ghana between 1975 and 1981, while also preparing for her doctorate at Boston University in the USA which made her the first nurse in Ghana with a post-graduate degree.
She “transformed and modernized nursing education “with” strong imaginative leadership and initiative”, Docia was the founder and first president of the Ghana Registered Nurses Association (GRNA) formed in 1960 by a merger of two other nursing bodies, one led by her.
She also served on the National Health Planning Committee and the Nurses and Midwives Board. She was an African representative and a worldwide committee member of the International Council of Nurses and was their vice-president from 1973-77.
She was also involved in voluntary organisations like the Ghana Red Cross Society, the Girl Guides, the St. John Ambulance Association, the St John’s Council of Ghana and the Manya Krobo Youth Congress.
She was honoured by the state in 1984 and in 1986, her portrait was put on the old 100 cedi banknote. An honorary degree was also conferred on her ceremonially by the University of Ghana on 13th August 2008.
In 2015 the Ghana Registered Nurses Association(GRNA) instituted a series of lectures called the Dr. Docia Kisseih Memorial Lectures.