Sunrise over beach

A Promise Kept
Story 125

By Hallie Anderson

A career path often takes twists and turns, winding its way with every skill and experience that shapes a person. That path is usually forged by a decision.

Steve O’Connell’s career path was forged by a promise. A local Northern Californian, Steve is one of Adventist Health and Rideout’s newest nurses. When Steve attended the hospital’s orientation, he shared his heartfelt story about what brought him to the team.

Steve lost his high school sweetheart and wife of 35 years to cancer in the fall of 2014. He shared that it was a horrible experience that changed him forever. After his wife’s passing, Steve made a vow.

“I told God that I would return to the hospital environment – not as a patient, but as a nurse,” Steve says. “I would come back and give to families who were going through the trials and tribulations of battling cancer, offering the same care that was given to my wife and me as we went through our experience.”

“I told God that I would return to the hospital environment – not as a patient, but as a nurse."

Steve often pondered the idea of returning to school after more than 30 years. In the fall of 2016, he mustered up the courage, walked into Yuba College, and told the front desk, “I want to become a nurse.” As part of his prerequisites, Steve enrolled in the college’s Psychiatric Technician program. During this program, he was first introduced to clinical rotations – including one at Adventist Health and Rideout.

“After this experience, I felt in my heart that I wanted to be a part of [that team],” Steve recalls. “It was from this point on that every time I drove by or saw AHRO from the height of an overpass, I would promise myself, ‘Someday I will be there!’”

Upon graduating with an associate degree and his Psychiatric Technician’s certification, Steve was immediately accepted into Yuba College’s nursing program. During this program, he was assigned clinical rotations in three different hospital settings, one of which was – once again – Adventist Health and Rideout.

“The other organizations were professional, respectable entities that provide excellent community healthcare,” Steve says. But during those clinical rotations at Rideout, Steve says he was amazed by the willingness of its employees to patiently him teach him as he learned, helping him grow by “leaps and bounds.”

“I had the fortune of being taught by doctors, nurses, managers, and assistants,” he shares. “I witnessed life come into the world and, unfortunately, leave the world, as well.”

“In that brief time of rotations at AHRO, I can say I experienced the Adventist Health mission statement firsthand,” he adds.

Steve fondly remembers his first impressions of the Rideout team and the moment he accepted the opportunity to join the team full-time.

“I was sitting at my kitchen table having coffee with my mother, who is my biggest fan, when a Talent Acquisition representative from AHRO called to inform me that I had passed my interview and was being offered a position as an ER nurse,” Steve remembers. “It was one of my proudest moments ever.”