2008 Winning Essay
Neil R. Kocalis
Davis & Elkins College
Role model is defined by the Encarta Dictionary as “a worthy person who is a good example for other people”. After watching A Nurse I Am, I now have three exemplary role models to pattern my nursing career after. Each of them demonstrated the level of commitment it requires to be an exceptional nurse. However, one in particular impacted me in a special way. Bob Wilkinson served in the Army for 20 years, and was awarded it’s most prestigious peace time medal for risking his life to save others. Bob has faced the fear of death and conquered it. Bob Wilkinson is a man’s man, and Bob is a nurse.
When Bob, now a pediatric oncology nurse, was introduced in A Nurse I Am, the first thought that came to mind was, “What a gentle giant”. Regardless of his physical stature, it soon became obvious how giant his heart was when he shared, “Showing care. People feel that. They see it in your eyes…they’ll see it your smile. It’s everything. It’s your whole entity”. These are the words of a man who is completely sold out to caring for others. Bob now helps children and their families face their fears on a daily basis. Cancer leaves many questions unanswered, especially when it strikes our children. Bob’s pain was evident when he spoke of unleashing his frustration on God. It’s emotional pain I’m sure he would endure if he knew it would alleviate his patient’s physical pain. The tremendous amount of courage and mental fortitude his empathetic position requires causes me to believe that Bob must be one of the toughest men I’ve ever seen. That’s the type of strength through caring I hope to show as a nurse.
As a male going into a female dominated profession, I expect to encounter the Meet the Fockers type jabs and jests. I see those times as opportunities to educate and enlighten individuals, just like I’ll be educating and empowering my patients. Although there are not nearly enough “murses” in the profession, we are seeing more and more men proud to declare “I’m an RN”! Mary Holt, chief nursing officer at Ben Taub General Hospital, said in A Nurse I Am, “When we talk about a healthy America, it cannot happen without RN’s”. She was right, it cannot happen without RN’s. Furthermore, I believe that it cannot happen without men playing in integral part. This country is in the midst of a nursing shortage of critical levels. The profession needs a rejuvenation of “young blood” to take us into the next generation, yet one half of our country’s population is being ignored as potential candidates. Bob says, “Nursing is a great profession for men”, and it is. Nursing is a great profession, no matter your gender.
After taking a close look, any man can see the plethora of opportunities awaiting those who choose nursing as a profession. First and foremost, there is the opportunity to help others on a daily basis in a way that changes lives. There is also the opportunity to better yourself through lifelong learning or improving your family’s financial situation. Because of the nursing shortage, there is a level of flexibility in nursing not seen in other professions.
Both my wife, also a student nurse, and I plan on taking full advantage of all that nursing has to offer. At the same time, we see it as an amazing gateway to giving back locally, nationally, and internationally. Our dream is to be involved with medical mission trips and provide healthcare to those without access to it otherwise.
A Nurse I Am has encouraged me and empowered me to continue the journey towards becoming an RN with passion and purpose. I now have Bob Wilkinson as a role model to refer to during the hard times along the way. I have taken to heart all that he said and I am a better man for it. Though Bob is no longer risking his life to save others, it is clear that he has now given his life to the same pursuit. Bob is a hero to many. Nursing is for the strong, the compassionate, and the caring. Faint of heart need not apply.