A Nursing Professional Development Specialist, in the Department of Perioperative Services at University Hospitals of Cleveland, Jared Rice, DHSc, MBA, MSN, RN, RRT, CCRN, RNC-NIC, RRT-NPS, RRT-ACCS, RPFT, AE-C, uses the story of his career path to share a lesson with anyone who faces challenges or obstacles in their life.

It is said, “The road may be rough, the journey may be tough and the experience may be bitter, but they are stepping stones to our future thrones.” My journey to becoming a nurse was not easy or straightforward. However, through perseverance and commitment, I was able to overcome every obstacle.

When I started college, I was unsure of what career path I wanted to follow. I initially pursued Information Science and Technology, but I quickly learned that my computer programming skills were weak, and I failed. I was always interested in health science and nutrition, so I turned my sights to a nursing program. It was challenging from the start, and I hung on by a thread until the second semester. During that term, I did not pass a nursing course by 2 points and was removed from the program. I spent the next term improving my grades to reapply to the nursing program, but was rejected.

Without anywhere to turn, I spoke to the school's counselor about options. The school had just started a program in respiratory therapy and I decided that I would put everything I could into that program. I had the option of clinical sites, decided I would not take the easy route, and picked Hamot Medical Center in Erie PA, the largest clinical site available and an hour and a half drive each way.

My pediatric rotation brought me to Rainbow Babies and Children’s (RB&C) Hospital in Cleveland OH, nearly a 3-hour drive from home. I was at RB&C as a student for the opening of the Quentin & Elisabeth Alexander Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). For an entire day, I transported patients from the old NICU to the new one. During that time, I knew I wanted to work at RB&C. When I graduated, I only applied to that hospital and found a job.

Being a respiratory therapist at RB&C allowed me to take my career to an entirely new level, for example, the opportunity to conducted small research projects and present my findings at the American Association of Respiratory Care National Congress. I did not want my formal education to end and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in respiratory therapy.

I wanted to use my skills and knowledge to help others, and in 2012, I traveled to Najaf, Iraq with the Novick Cardiac Alliance. This medical mission trip allowed me to provide care for children with heart disease in developing countries and train the local healthcare providers on how to provide medical care for these children.

In 2013, I was pursuing a master’s of business administration and was awarded the William F. Miller, MD Postgraduate Education Recognition Award by the American Respiratory Care Foundation. In 2014, I was recognized as a Healthcare Hero in the field of allied health by Crain’s Cleveland Business. I continued to search for strategies to use my skills and knowledge to serve others and became a member of board of directors for the Association of Asthma Educators. During my term, I was the chair of membership, marketing, and public relations. The organization even recognized me as an Outstanding Asthma Educator in 2016.

RB&C has provided me many opportunities to become a healthcare innovator. In 2015 and 2016, my ideas won the Belcher-Weir Family Innovation Challenge, and I was able to turn my ideas into medical devices.

As I practice, I continued to see the challenges in interprofessional education. Many nurses failed to see the value RTs added in positive patient outcomes. I decided that I would return to nursing and help bridge the gap between nursing and respiratory therapy. I found a nursing program at Excelsior College and immediately began courses. I passed my classes and reached the final clinical examination of the program. I was able to graduate from the program and became a nurse.

I began my nursing career at RB&C as a NICU nurse. I began working and loved what I did. As soon I was eligible, I earned all the credentials in the specialty and expanded my skills to restarting my role on the delivery team. Attending high-risk deliveries is very fast-paced and challenging. It allowed me the opportunity to use all of my background and training.

While working, I was introduced to Ashley Weber, who was conducting research in the NICU. After speaking with her, I joined her research lab at the University of Cincinnati. We have spent the past few years working to improve parent-infant bonding through studying skin-to-skin kangaroo care, parent education, and pre-term infant stress. Working on the research team has allowed me to see the bigger picture in patient care and the critical role each healthcare professional fills.

Currently, I am a nursing professional development specialist in the department of operative services at University Hospitals. My current role allows me to see the challenges of interdisciplinary education and teamwork.

The reason I tell this story is because I want students and professionals to know that failure is only the ending if they allow it. Hard work and grit will help you become successful at any endeavor.

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