The interviewee I spoke with is named Robert Dolan. He works as a nurse at a local hospital in Southern California. I knew I wanted to interview Robert, as he has been working as a nurse for a major hospital for several years and plans to continue his professional nursing role development for the foreseeable future. The healthcare industry is competitive, but it is rewarding to see the tangible benefits that it brings.
The official position Robert holds is that of “Hospital Nurse”, which earns him anywhere between sixty to ninety thousand dollars per years, depending on the amount of overtime he chooses to work. His job duties include making sure that the patients are kept comfortable with food and water, receive the proper medication at the right time, and otherwise assist the medical staff with whatever tasks they need done. A hospital nurse is a versatile position, and the nursing staff are on the frontline of ensuring quality care to the patient body as a whole. In his time as a hospital nurse, Robert has worked in general patient care as well the Emergency Room, an experience he found deeply significant in the development of his career.
I chose to interview Robert for the simple reason that I know that he is one of the top nurses at his hospital, and his insight and knowledge into the industry cannot be matched. I wanted to interview someone who not only has a vested interest in the field, but also exhibits a clear sense of passion for the work itself. Moreover, I feel that nursing takes a particular mindset in order to perform at a top level, and that the ability to be compassionate, caring, and kind is critical in the industry. Robert exhibits all of these traits and more; in the time I interviewed him, I was exposed to the sheer strength of his convictions and his simple desire to help the people around him. In addition to the traits mentioned above, I knew that Robert is a smart man who is able to think on his feet and come up with rapid solutions to situations that arise without warning.
Robert knew he wanted to be involved in the medical profession from a young age. His parents are both working as lawyers, and they instilled him a strong desire to pursue a career that is rewarding both financially and emotionally. Though his parents both earn very large salaries working in tax law, Robert knew that he wanted to pursue a career in which he could directly help people in need. Always a compassionate child, he spent much of his time outdoors volunteering at summer camps and local charity organizations. A strong love for animals almost tempted him into an alternate career path, as he seriously considered attending veterinary school.
It was not until the final years of high school that Robert finally decided to pursue nursing as a potential career. He chose to attend the University of California, San Diego, with an undergraduate focus in general biology in order to begin his path to becoming a medical professional. He considered medical school and felt pressured by his parents to pursue a career in a lucrative medical field such as heart surgery or cosmetic surgery. None of these career paths truly appealed to him, however. Robert is far more interested in direct aid and social interaction, and works well with anyone he is tasked to help. It took him two years at his university to finally settle on becoming a nurse as a true career.
Robert informed me that the most important lessons for success in one’s career is to find something you are passionate about it and make it your own. For him, there is an incredible amount of intrinsic motivation in what he does; Robert has an internal desire to help others, and he chose a career in which that passion can be expressed. By choosing nursing and making it part of himself, he can express his passion for helping others while simultaneously achieving a quality life for himself and his family.
For Robert, career success is centered around the expression of one’s own personal passion. The “do’s” of a successful nursing career include a strong attention to detail, a powerful work ethic, and the acceptance that the job will require you to deal with some truly awful experiences when dealing with sick and injured people. Attention to detail in nursing is something Robert stressed strongly, as nurses are often involved in stressful situations where a single misstep can be hugely significant. He noted one specific time in which he prevented a misapplication of the wrong medication to an elderly patient; according to Robert, another nurse had made an error with the medication being delivered to the patient via her I.V. tube and it was only at the last moment that the disaster was averted.
The most significant “don’t” Robert noted was that a nurse has to make sure not to take the work home with her. For all of the emotional and physical trauma a nurse will witness in his or her career, they absolutely must be able to “switch it off” at the end of the shift. If a nurse, especially an emergency room nurse, is unable to do this, they will inevitably burn out and crash. Robert told me that anyone working in a profession where they deal with death and injury on a regular basis has to be able to remember that the work cannot become the core aspect of their life.
According to Robert, networking in nursing involves making as many connections with hospital staff and administrators as possible. Making friends and professional connections and showcasing one’s own individual skills and talents is critical, as it makes you stand apart from the crowd and become more than just another random member of the team. He chose to define success in the 21st century as “finding emotional and financial fulfillment through the expression of one’s passions”, which was a definition I found particularly appealing. Success, then, can be seen as finding responsible fulfillment in a field where an individual can express themselves and their passions.
The purpose of this question was to discover whether or not Robert felt any regret at not choosing a more lucrative career, or whether the negative experiences of his job have in any way impacted his personal life. His answer was short: a resounding “no”. He says the long hours and difficult work have taken a toll on his personal life at times, but the positive impact he makes on the lives of individuals vastly outweighs the occasional drawbacks of the job. By the end of this interview, I felt that Robert had truly expressed his belief in his own success as both an empathetic individual and someone that found a way to express his passion for helping others. Regrets are natural, but it is clear that Robert would not change anything about the path he has made in life.