ED Staff Nurse, NYP Columbia University
Why did you choose nursing?
I’ve had a pretty intimate connection with nursing early on. As an eight-year-old boy, I laid helplessly in a hospital bed with tubes running from my stomach and arms. In the second grade, I was hospitalized for over a month battling sepsis after my parents, who had difficulty believing in modern medicine, were hesitant to take me to the emergency room. My appendix had ruptured during this time, leaving me in intense agony. Even now, I remember the events quite vividly. From the ER to the operating room, I watched a slew of scrubs, white coats, and stethoscopes prod my body, while I answered questions I would ask my own patients years later.
Through all of the chaos, I remember the impact of the nurses who stayed at my bedside from the emergency department, to the ones who were in my room, adjusting the monitors. They helped me acclimate to the draining tubes protruding from my abdomen, and calmed me when my pain became unbearable. Being a young child, the nurses translated the scientific jargon the doctors were rattling off, and helped me understand what was happening. Each nurse seemed to have an uncanny ability to care for someone with great compassion and empathy without judgment; that demonstration of humanity stuck with me. As I lay in my hospital bed, I vowed to someday do the same for others.
As a result of my surgery, the physicians placed me on strict bedrest in the Intensive Care Unit for quite some time. After the tubes from my abdomen had been removed, the doctors determined that I was ready to begin walking. I remember as my nurse held my legs as my hips shimmied towards the edge of the bed; it was a peculiar and unfamiliar feeling to be moving in that manner. My knees shook and buckled when the weight of my body felt the downward force of gravity. The nurse caught me before I could fall and safely sat me on the bed. She patiently waited and uttered words of encouragement with each attempt to steadily balance on my two feet. “Keep going. It’s ok, I’m here,” she said. Her hands were in mine as one foot shuffled past the other to the end of the hall and back. Moments like these can seem so insignificant to others, but impacted me to such a large degree in the motivation to pursue nursing. The nurse who cared for me embodied all the characteristics the profession holds dearly—patience, dedication, and empathy.
Even as I moved from the ICU to a general medical floor for observation and eventually discharge, I never forgot about the bedside nurses. Most of the details from my childhood ordeal have become a blur, but my experiences inspired me to pursue the profession with a passion that originated from receiving such amazing care first hand. This drive provided me with the courage and motivation to pursue a career in nursing. It goes without saying that, though unfortunate, I may not have discovered my affinity towards nursing without the admiration I felt for the nurses in a trying time. Now, as a professional nurse, I provide the same compassionate care I was given back then. When patients enter the Emergency Room, it is a very overwhelming and frightening situation; I am privileged to contribute the same kindness I was blessed with as a young child for patients and use my past as a standard for my current practice.
Nursing is more than just a calling or a simple vocation for me. It helped to save my life in many ways that medications ever can. People don’t live by pills alone. It has given me the purpose to serve others in their time of need, just as many have done for mine.
How do you see yourself in the nursing profession in the next five years?
In the next five years, I see myself constantly developing as a critically thinking, well-rounded nurse with the ability to contribute positively to my patient’s overall health. Specifically, I plan on continuing my work as a member of the Emergency Department at Columbia University Medical Center. I’m not quite sure where my career in nursing will lead me to, but I know that the bedside will always be my place. Attending New York University for my undergraduate career instilled within me a drive to learn, to grow, and to continuously question the status quo for the better. Since graduating in 2013, I have already gained invaluable experience working in two Emergency Departments in major medical centers. In preparing myself for the next steps, I obtained my Certification in Emergency Nursing this past June not only to advance myself professionally, but most importantly for my patients to have confidence in my care. This fall, I will be matriculating into a Master’s in Nursing: Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program to further my studies and to provide the best care that I can in any setting.
What is your vision for the NYC Men in Nursing?
My vision for the NYC MI is for it to sustain its success as a haven and support system for males in the field. It is an amazing organization that values the contributions of men in nursing, celebrating the diversity of the profession through diverse perspectives. Nursing prides itself on empowering practitioners in expanding its’ knowledge base and building upon experiences past. Since joining the group, I have had the opportunity to learn from my peers and witness the great work they have achieved through nursing. It’s comforting to know that my colleagues and I have an organization, made up of like-minded individuals, who come together to build something that is much larger than ourselves. I want to continue that and strengthen the mentorship program so that every male nursing student, professional, and researcher looks forward to being a part it. In my career, I have had several mentors who were crucial in shaping how I approached and learned from nursing. These individuals are a part of my knowledge base just as much as pathophysiology or pharmacology. What’s the point in learning so much if you can’t share you know?
What do you see as the legacy of male nurses in the nursing profession?
I am very excited for the future of men in nursing. I believe that males practicing now are considered to be an integral part of the profession. I hope to see that the idea of a male pursuing nursing is accepted as norm rather than an anomaly. However, I also understand that we need to be part of the larger conversation of diversity. Regardless of ethnicity, culture, language, or socioeconomic status, nursing treats and accepts without bias. It is important to celebrate our unique differences within the field and create a transparent image for the larger public to understand that nurses come from all backgrounds. The legacy that male nurses leave should not be about creating an identity, but about pushing nursing forward together for our patients.