Soldier kneeling with simulation dummy

Nursing Chose Me
Story 171

Growing up in the US Virgin Islands, Joseph reflects on how his parents modeled behaviors that prepared him for a life of service. “My mom would make meals for the elderly in the neighborhood, and it was my job to deliver a plate to them. My father would always be the first to help when the community would be preparing for hurricanes.”

Upon graduating high school, Joseph joined the Navy with hopes to gain skills and earn the G.I. Bill to go to school, but nursing wasn’t on his radar. In fact, his job was in electronics as a Sonar Technician. But even during basic shipboard/triage training, his shipmates recognized his natural abilities when it came to medicine, and would say of him to the crew, “If someone needs medical care, this is the person you want!” During his 10 years of Active Duty, Joseph served six years straight at sea. He recalled that whenever he got to port, there were often opportunities to sign up for community related projects, and he was always one to volunteer. Those opportunities included planting trees in Australia after the wildfires in the 90’s, helping in orphanages in Hong Kong, and working on cleanup projects in Singapore – wherever Joseph found himself, he found himself serving. “I was doing it without realizing where it was headed.”

Joseph’s journey post-active duty led him to Pacific Union College, where again, healthcare seemed to whisper in his ear without him seeking it out. He felt as though he was being called to work in missions in developing countries. As part of his screening for the Theology program he was given a career inventory, and as the screener shared the results, he was told, “You’re going to be a healer!” His thoughts were later stimulated when invited to a friend’s nurse pinning ceremony and the speaker said, “nursing is an art”, which echoed an earlier sentiment that he was gifted in the arts. His path continued to lead him towards healthcare, and he went all in, even when “all in” meant joining Professor Duncan’s Anatomy class two weeks into the quarter and somehow still managing to finish with an A.

One may think that working as a nurse and continuing a 21-year (and counting) military career would be a lot to manage, but Joseph is dedicated to balance. It’s important for him to maintain a life of self-discovery though wellness and service. He finds it important to “nurture all aspects of his life”, from spending time communing with God to enjoying time running, hiking, and doing hot yoga. He shares that he finds much of his social community through his coworkers and patients, and how he values the ability to stimulate his brain and continue to be open to learning.

When asked if he connects to the Mission of Adventist Health, he echoes “all of it”.

“This life is not all there is. That’s the real motivation, the love that Jesus has for me, my service is patterned after him.”  Joseph continued, “it impacts me when someone treats me with kindness – a smile makes all the difference and conveys, ‘I’m not alone in this world’.” Joseph held out his hands and looked down and shared, “If I can use these hands to help, or if I can brighten the day of just one person with a smile, I will have lived well.”

Written by Trina Justman, Director of Well-Being for Adventist Health St. Helena