Jeffrey Burke

September 2009
Class of 2010


This I believe about nursing… “Every single day you have the extraordinary opportunity to save a life, heal the sick, comfort the dying and make a tangible difference to all of humanity.”

My journey towards becoming a nurse started when I was fifteen years old in the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan. I was on a trip with my school to help build a schoolhouse. It was late in the day when one of my teachers, Mr. Nelis, ran up and asked if anyone had medical training. I put my hand up and said that I did. I was Boy Scout and had been trained in wilderness first aid. He told me that a boy was hurt. He didn’t know any more, only that I was to get to the camp and grab the aid bag. I sprinted through the maze of mud houses in the village, through the golden wheat fields, and down the hill to where we pitched our camp. I grabbed my ground pad and aid bag and tried in vain to tell our Sherpa what was going on.  

That’s when I saw the boy, with a crowd of men around him, curled in a fetal position in his father’s arms. He had been playing in a tree when he fell and cut himself badly; there was a seven inch laceration across his chest and arm pit. They laid him on my ground pad; his father would not let us touch him. Speaking through an interpreter, I told him how to clean and wrap the boy’s arm and place it in a sling, secured by a bit of cloth across his chest to immobilize his arm. After the bleeding had stopped and the bandages applied, we placed the boy in one of our jeeps and sent him to a medical station further down the valley. For the rest of the trip, every time a Sherpa rolled an ankle or had a sprain, they called me. I knew then that I had to do something in the medical field but what, I didn’t know.

In college, I studied Biology and got an internship that led to my love of the Emergency Department. I loved the variety, everything from traumas to the common cold. I was hooked. After graduating from college, I was hired by Pfizer Inc. as a cardiovascular representative. After some time, I discovered it was not for me. I bemoaned this to a doctor friend of mine and told him about my interest in the Emergency Department. He encouraged me to go back to nursing school and work in an Emergency Department as a Registered Nurse and look into becoming a Nurse Practitioner.

When Pfizer laid me off, I needed no further pushing. I applied to Shenandoah and was accepted to their second degree BSN program and now, with the help of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, I believe this about nursing, I have finally found my calling.