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ADVANCE Perspective: Nurses

Reflection on Father’s Day: One Dad’s Nursing Journey

Published June 13, 2014 10:01 AM by Guest Blogger

By Lee Helstein

As I reflect upon the significance of Father’s Day, I am reminded of why I decided to pursue nursing in the first place. The birth of my daughter reaffirms my commitment to the path I have chosen every day.

What I have come to realize is that these two jobs, fatherhood and nursing, are one in the same. Both require sacrifice; putting the needs of someone else before your own. I want to give care to a patient in the same way I would want my family to be cared for.

Although many nurses will tell you they had always dreamed of becoming a nurse, I did not grow up with this dream. My passion for helping and caring for others grew long before I realized nursing would be my chosen career path. Eventually, this passion motivated me to make a drastic career change.

Shortly after 9/11, I decided to enroll in the U.S. Army and in May 2002, I was enlisted in the infantry. I deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan in 2004. After being honorably discharged in 2005 I moved to Las Vegas and enrolled at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas to eventually earn my bachelor’s degree in business management. I was soon involuntarily recalled to Afghanistan.

Having temporarily left everything behind, I was able to return to Las Vegas, where I finished my degree and started a defense contracting business. Unfortunately, the economy soon plummeted, and the government cut back its spending. Eventually, I was forced to close down the business.

Due to these changing circumstances and a desire to be close to family, my wife and I made the decision to move back to our hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. I started working odds-and-ends sales jobs, mainly providing business-related services, and tried to utilize my business management degree. Each job lacked a feeling of internal satisfaction that I desired.

As I thought back to my time in the Army, I remembered the strong feeling of accomplishment I felt. I had made a difference every day and I felt established. I was on the front lines patrolling the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan and experienced the rush of combat, but I also helped to build schools and aided sick children. As I reflected on these times, I realized how much I missed the rewarding feeling you get when you are a part of something greater than yourself.

It was at this point in my life, as I was going back and forth between sales jobs, feeling completely unsatisfied, that I decided to make a career change and become a nurse, despite the fact that others could not picture me in such a role.

In April 2013, I enrolled in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree program at Chamberlain College of Nursing’s Cleveland campus. I decided to make this career change to nursing because I wanted to make a difference again, I wanted to feel a bigger sense of accomplishment in my life than just holding a job for financial gain.

The following year, my daughter Rose was born. During our stay at the hospital, our nurses were always there, providing me and my wife with support and guidance. They were always checking in on us, ready to help us with the nerve-racking questions all new parents face: How should we feed her? How should we bath her? Will she be too warm in this blanket?

On our last day, as we were about to leave the hospital, I joked with the nurse, asking if she would come home with us. The interactions my wife and I had with the nurses made me more comfortable caring for my daughter once we left the safety of the hospital.

As I start my journey of fatherhood and continue my education to earn my BSN, I hope that being good at one will help me succeed with the other. I hope to secure a better future for myself and my family through becoming a nurse. As a father I want to give my daughter a reason to be proud of me. I want to teach her that there are many important aspects of life that can be realized through your career and that careers can offer more meaning than the simple satisfaction of a salary.

I became a nurse not only to fulfill a personal calling of wanting to help and care for others, but to show my daughter the power of helping your fellow people, the people you live with in your community. I want to teach her that doing so will provide her with a greater sense of completeness than any pursuit made simply for financial gain.

Nursing is an incredibly honorable profession. I hope that one day I can show my daughter the profound influence she has had on my life and commitment to becoming a nurse.

Lee Helstein is a student in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program, Chamberlain College of Nursing’s Cleveland Campus.

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