As a former ICU, ED, and recovery room nurse, I’ve been blessed with countless opportunities to take care of patients and their families in their times of greatest of need. I’ve been a nurse for 22 years, and I keep coming back to two main reasons as to why I’m glad and grateful I became one.
The first reason is that as a nurse, I’m always a nurse. Not just in a formal hospital patient care setting, but rather anywhere I am, I am a nurse. Whether that be at home, at my kids’ athletic events, on an airplane mid-flight, or on the side of a country road after seeing an auto accident, I’m always a nurse.
The second reason is that being a nurse has allowed me to have deeper and more intentional relationships with my family members and close friends.
The beauty of the nursing profession is that there are countless opportunities if we're willing to take advantage of them.
I count it a privilege to be their nurse and their patient advocate. Today’s healthcare system is extremely complex and difficult to navigate, especially if you don’t have somebody to help guide you through it. I cannot imagine trying to navigate a serious illness without the knowledge I’ve gained as a nurse.
A few years ago, I lost my grandfather to stomach cancer. I take great comfort in knowing that he and my grandmother were able to lean on me during his illness. Their countless appointments, tests, procedures, and medications could become confusing and overwhelming. Being a nurse allowed me to give them some comfort in knowing what to expect, what to ask, and ultimately what to consider with the various treatment options presented to them.
Last summer while my family was up in Michigan on vacation, my 16-year-old son was involved in a bad ATV accident and broke his jaw in three spots. When the surgeon learned we lived in Florida, he strongly encouraged us to take him from Michigan to Florida to have his treatment and surgery there, so that a single surgeon could manage his care from beginning to end.
I had to pack up my son, coordinate a flight, and get him from Michigan to Florida with the jaw broken at three spots. I cannot imagine doing that if I weren’t a nurse. It gave me a lot of satisfaction to bring comfort and calmness to my son and my family during that very chaotic situation.
I decided to leave direct patient care because after ten years I reached a point where I wasn’t learning anymore. I worked as a hospital supervisor for a couple years. I managed an ICU and ER. I had taken that stage of my career as far as I could take it without going back to school and doing something different.
At about that time, about 11 years ago, electronic health record systems were coming into play. The hospital I was working for had an opening in the IT department for a nurse and it just made sense to me. I’ve always been a technology geeky guy, and working in healthcare IT has allowed me to bring that together with my clinical knowledge.
When I made the decision to leave direct patient care, I said I had to always be able to check two boxes. One, that I’m still using my clinical knowledge. And two, that whatever I’m doing is positively impacting patient care. I reached a point in the electronic health record world four years ago where I was not able to check those two boxes anymore. And that’s when I made the jump to Vocera.
The beauty of the nursing profession is that there are countless opportunities if we’re willing to take advantage of them. In my career, I’ve changed positions about every three years because I could. My career has evolved and I’m constantly learning new things, yet I’m still wrapped around patient care.
When you’re a nurse, you’re always a nurse, and that’s what I enjoy most about this profession.