Monday, July 03, 2017
by Kathryn Holleman
GSON | If the traditional nursing school student is a young woman fresh out of high school, then Pablo Ramirez is pretty much the opposite. But he’s a good fit for Goldfarb School of Nursing at Barnes-Jewish College (GSON).
A 29-year-old U.S. Army veteran, Ramirez grew up in Window Rock, Ariz., capital of the Navajo Nation. Now in his third of five semesters at Goldfarb, he plans someday to join the federal Indian Health Service (IHS) and serve as a nurse practitioner teaching about and treating preventable health conditions that are prevalent among Native Americans, especially on reservations.
Ramirez readily admits that his path to nursing isn’t typical, and he hadn’t thought about entering the health care field until relatively recently.
It’s not that Ramirez was unfamiliar with nursing. His mom is a clinical psychiatry nurse.
“I knew she worked in a nice environment and had a lot of job satisfaction,” he says.
A bright, but active youngster, Ramirez didn’t like sitting still in the classroom. As a result, he dropped out of high school, got his GED and, like many young Native Americans faced with limited career and educational opportunities, he joined the military.
During his eight-year Army career as a combat engineer, Ramirez was assigned to “route clearance” — an Army term for detecting and destroying improvised explosive devices (IEDs) planted along roads by enemy forces.
He jokes that he wasn’t sure what route clearance entailed when he was first assigned the job, and “when
I found out, I was like, ‘whoa!’ But it was too late.”
The assignment is every bit as complex and dangerous as it sounds. After making it safely through a tour of duty in Iraq, Ramirez, by then a sergeant and squad leader, was sent with his unit to Afghanistan in 2012. On April 9 of that year, he suffered serious leg and back injuries from an IED blast.
“It could have been a lot worse,” he says, “I feel lucky. I could have lost a leg. I could be not here.”
Ramirez obtained a medical separation from the Army, then spent months recovering in the Veterans Administration hospital in San Antonio, Texas, before beginning rehabilitation (which he still continues).
He noticed the nurses in the hospital “were the backbone of the operation,” he says. Thinking of how his mother enjoyed her work and the impact he could have on the health of an underserved population, Ramirez began to consider a nursing career.
Meanwhile, Ramirez’s girlfriend, whom he had met through a mutual friend, earned her degree in social work at Washington University with the aim of returning to the reservation. However, she realized that there was a greater need and more opportunity for attorneys. She plans to attend Washington University School of Law. Nearby Goldfarb was a good fit for Ramirez’s nursing plans.
Not the traditional nursing school
Just as health care has evolved over the last 50 years, nurses’ roles have evolved, too. Today’s nurses are an integral part of the health care delivery team, and the best have the knowledge, skills and experience to thrive as part of that team. Goldfarb is committed to preparing students to excel in this environment, and its program looks much different than that of the traditional nursing school, where the newly graduated high school student became a registered nurse (RN) after three years. The college doesn’t admit newly graduated high school students. Rather, it only accepts undergraduates who have a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing, an associate degree or a number of prerequisites already completed. In fact, 43 percent of Goldfarb’s undergraduate students are over age 25.
Goldfarb prepares students to provide direct care to patients and their families in a variety of health care settings, as well as to pursue higher degrees in nursing. Students can earn a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) in 15- or 20-month programs. Goldfarb also offers an online RN-to-BSN program, a variety of master of science in nursing programs and doctorate programs. The school has an acclaimed clinical simulation lab and arranges clinical experiences for students in a variety of diverse settings.
Though still not a fan of the demanding classroom work, Ramirez appreciates its necessity and value, he says. He recently began a clinical rotation on a cardiac telemetry floor at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, where he’s immersed in learning the protocols and rhythms of providing care on a nursing unit.
“But the clinicals and the lectures go hand-in-hand,” he says. “I’d be lost on the floor without the bookwork to back it up.”
Ramirez looks forward to upcoming clinical rotations, especially those in active, potentially stressful areas, such as the emergency department. There, his military training in performing under extreme pressure should be useful, he says.
Ultimately, Ramirez would like to earn an adult acute care nurse practitioner degree, join the IHS, and return to the Southwest to treat and educate Native Americans about preventable health issues such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
“There’s a need for prevention and education across the board. There are so many preventable issues on the reservation,” he says. “I’d like to make a real difference.”
Kathryn Holleman, firstname.lastname@example.org
Tags : Pablo Ramirez
Number of views (3306)/Comments (5)
7/7/2017 1:14 AM
Awesome article I enjoyed reading it brother...
7/7/2017 3:48 PM
Thank you for your service in the military! Glad you are finding a way to continue service in the medical field.
7/17/2017 2:14 PM
Awesome article. Keep up the good work. We need more dedicated men in nursing.
7/18/2017 7:19 AM
Thank you for your service to our country, Pablo. You are on the right path and good luck in your career choice.
7/18/2017 4:22 PM
Thank you for your service and best wishes to you as you progress in your career.