Featured Member February 2016
Staff Nurse – Cardiac Stepdown
New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Hospital
Why did you choose nursing?
My name is Michael Paladino; I work on a cardiac stepdown unit at NewYork-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center. I fell into this profession like many others, while I was taking prerequisite courses for medical school. I had graduated from college years earlier with a degree in Food Studies that I could not seem to make great use of, and I knew something needed to change. I was working for my family’s construction company and volunteering as a HIV counselor at a small community based organization in Brooklyn. I loved working in a public health setting, and I was experiencing enormous satisfaction interfacing with clients directly. I thought medical school could be a logical next step, so I left my job and enrolled in a post-bac program at NYU. I remember working incredibly hard in those classes and feeling down most of the time. I never quite felt at home when I was shadowing physicians outside of school, and I always had this nagging sense that I would probably drop out of medical school even if I did get accepted.
In 2013 while I was plodding through the program, my parents called to tell me that my grandmother, who had been living with my family for as long as I could remember, suffered a severe stroke related to a CHF exacerbation. They decided to take her off food and fluids, and I took the train home to Long Island to sit at her bedside while she died over the course of a week. I was despondent and, with that particular sense of urgency that comes from learning people do not live forever, I submitted an application to nursing school just before the deadline passed. I had no real nurse role models, just a hunch in the wake of my grandmother’s passing that the nursing model of care would be more aligned with my own values.
Thankfully it was and everything else fell into place. I loved nursing school, and I love this profession more than I could have imagined. Healthcare is truly crazy, but at the bedside I have the opportunity to actively change the patient experience for the better. I am the eyes and ears of the interdisciplinary team and a voice for the patient. It is tough work, but I really do leave the hospital most days feeling tuned-in and of great service.
How do you see yourself in the nursing profession in the next five years?
In the next five years I see myself in a CCU/CTICU environment. I love working with stable patients admitted for short-term treatment, but I also enjoy the challenge of managing critical cases. My floor’s policies give us generous caps for managing drips and other ICU-adjacent interventions. I would definitely value the opportunity to learn more about these technical aspects of nursing practice in a total care environment.
Beyond that, I try not to set too many goals for myself. So much of my current life as a nurse happened when I was most open to new possibilities. For now, I am trying to lose myself in the small joys of this profession. My partner Mark is also a nurse and I live for the moments we get to spend together outside of work. I am so grateful for our health and happiness, and I will just keep putting one foot in front of the other until life nudges me in a new direction.
What is your vision of the NYC MEN group?
I value the NYC Men In Nursing group because it made the profession more accessible and relatable. Growing up I always knew at least a few nurses, but they were mostly older women with families, houses out in the suburbs, and lives that seemed so far away from my own. How does a young single guy living in a big city with no real nurse role models visualize himself in the field? The reality is, nursing is incredibly diverse and there is always someone somewhere with the same interests and reasons for entering the profession. The NYC Men group brings these people together and makes them accessible in one place. Many thanks to all of the members for their support as I transitioned into this field.