My journey started in high school when I met my anatomy teacher. He was passionate and had a love for his career hard to match. It didn’t take long before that passion for learning about the human body transferred to me. Since then, I’ve always been interested in a career in healthcare – the problem was, I didn’t truly know my options.
I went to college set on becoming an athletic trainer. This career-path changed a half-dozen times after shadowing the various areas of healthcare. Should I become a physical therapist, dentist, optometrist or doctor? I was indecisive and ended up graduating with a bachelor’s degree in pre-health professional biology. While in school, I worked as a janitor and shingled houses in the summer months to pay for rent, food and school supplies.
After graduating, I could do anything with my biology degree, but I was very limited in immediate options. A biology degree primarily sets a student up to go back for more schooling while careers are limited without further education. There are jobs available with a biology degree but a majority of them are research-based and/or in a lab – not a good fit for a people-person like me. Those jobs available are entry-level and a master’s or PhD are almost always required in order to advance in that career, conduct research independently or work for a university.
At this point I went back to work. I worked for a telecommunications company splicing fiberoptic cables for TV, internet and phone needs. This required traveling from Sunday evening through Friday evening. I had just gotten married and, as you can imagine, that doesn’t mesh well with newlyweds. After two years of this, I became an industrial roofer, putting roofs on businesses such as supermarkets and fast food restaurants, in order to be closer to home.
Finally, my mother stepped in to save the day. She saw my potential was being wasted. She knew I was a people-oriented person who loved healthcare and nudged me to investigate nursing, arguably the most people-oriented healthcare profession. She saw my struggle with becoming excited about a new career-path, only to see that excitement dwindle after shadowing the various careers and losing interest. My mother reminded me that my grandmother was a nurse, as well as one of my aunts and my sister-in-law.
It didn’t take much research to find that this was the choice for me. After job shadowing in a couple nurse specialty areas, I knew this was something I had to do. I finally had that feeling of connecting with and positively influencing people in some of their most vulnerable moments. Pursuing nursing has truly been one of the best decisions my wife and I have made.
At age 26, already in debt from a previous 4-year degree, I decided to apply for the accelerated nursing program. An accelerated nursing program allows those with degrees to take nursing courses in an accelerated fashion in order to get a degree quicker and start working sooner. The soonest accelerated program happened to be at Nebraska Methodist College. Being from South Dakota and living in Iowa at the time, I had never been to Omaha and this was a big decision.
I got very lucky with choosing Nebraska Methodist College. My credits transferred without issue, there were more than a handful of men in my cohort, and I felt no different being a non-traditional student getting a second degree. Almost every male classmate of mine had not considered nursing in their first degree and it dawned on me that men who belong in this profession are losing both time and money by not knowing their options at an earlier age.
After over five years of a nursing career and three daughters later, I am now a current Doctor of Nursing Practice student with a focus on family practice. Nebraska Methodist College is committed to all its students but has personally shown me their commitment to increasing the number of men in the nursing profession. The college has sponsored a local chapter of the American Association for Men in Nursing (AAMN), with the main goal of reaching high school aged students to show them that nursing can be an excellent career-path, with many opportunities for males as well as females. I am convinced this could make a huge impact on the future landscape of males in the nursing profession in the Omaha area.
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Troy Beekman, RN, BSN, CCRN, is a board certified Registered Nurse and a doctoral student at Nebraska Methodist College. He is also a member of the Nebraska Medicine nursing staff.