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Student Spotlight

January 2012 Stellar Student - Erick Gohdes: Dedicated to Service

Erick GohdesAs a December, 2011 University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh College of Nursing graduate, Erick Gohdes is able to sum up his passion in life with one word: SERVICE. Whether applying this to his chosen profession of nursing, or as he embarks upon his military career in the U.S. Navy, his motivation is the same, the opportunity to serve others. Erick explains the source of this motivation. “Nursing did not choose me. I’m proud to say that I chose nursing because it aligns with my own values: the chance to serve in my life and through my faith. I feel I have always gotten the most out of life by serving others.”

Originally from northern Wisconsin and the first generation to attend college in his family, Erick saw education as a priority, so he gave thoughtful consideration before applying in order to have a clear direction. His first thought to envision nursing as his own career path came from an ad he read to ‘man up and be a nurse.’  He embraced the “tremendous influence nurses have for the health of patients and the community” as what he wanted to achieve in his own life. “That type of influence requires a great sense of maturity, knowledge and responsibility and I’m intrigued by that.”

Erick cites the nurses he shadowed during this exploration process as positive influences that inspired him to embark on this journey.  “I was so impressed by what I saw, and looked up to them; it provided me with a whole new respect for what nurses do on a daily basis.”

Erick’s decision to enter the military was not directly related to nursing; he had considered it prior to college. However, he still felt a greater desire to serve and felt compelled to look into it further. It allowed him to grow professionally and personally, and he sees the two as perfect complements to each other for the opportunity to serve both at the community level, and now globally in his military service. It also ties all his personal values together. Although the Navy’s Nurse Candidate Program has an arduous selection process, Erick said it was well worth it, and provided great financial support for his nursing education. Students can enroll after their sophomore year in an accredited Bachelor of Science Nursing program, and receive an initial grant of $10,000, plus a monthly stipend for up to 24 months. After graduation, participants join the Navy Nurse Corps as an Officer. Erick’s five-year commitment will begin in February as he enters officer training in Rhode Island, and then will be stationed at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego for a minimum of three years. Being deployed is always a possibility during his Navy nursing career, but Erick welcomes this, too, as an exciting opportunity.

The biggest challenges Erick faced during his nursing education were time management and finances but he is quick to qualify that by saying, “my challenges were nominal whenyou consider the hardships that many endure in our world today.” He credits his faith, family and friends with supporting him through the rough times.
Although Erick feels all nurses make their own unique and individual contributions to the profession, he also feels he is making a contribution because he is a male. “We need to increase the gender diversity and I am proud to be part of that movement.” What does he see as the key to gender diversity? The answer lies in changing the norm in our society and the cultural influences that impact nursing with an “ingrained image.” Erick answers with conviction, “We cannot have nursing as just another stereotype in society.” He also feels the focus should be on advancing nursing as whole, with men and women together, consistent with recommendations from the Institute of Medicine’s report on the Future of Nursing.

What’s outside the world of nursing for Erick?
“I am about chasing dreams and meeting challenges head on. I devote myself to practicing what we as nurses preach by living a healthy lifestyle. Things like hiking, fishing, kayaking, ultimate Frisbee, and playing music is a huge part in my life.  Nurses need to use the right side of their brains too!”

Erick participated in a regional meeting for the Future of Nursing™ Campaign for Action, sponsored by the Wisconsin Action Coalition. Because he was previously exposed to the IOM Report at a ‘Men in Nursing’ conference, this was not new ground for him. Erick feels the Campaign will be successful because there is greater nursing knowledge then ever at this point in history, and it sets nursing in the right direction.  “We may not ever get it right, but setting these goals will allow us to land somewhere, and to a younger nurse that is what is so encouraging. People tend to see only the ‘dark side’ of health care lately; this brings a light of hope to us as a younger generation.”

This goes along with Erick’s best advice for young people considering going into nursing. “Find a way to experience it NOW. Don’t put it off. Immerse yourself, shadow nurses, and get their perspectives to recognize how diverse nursing can be with its many opportunities, embrace the challenges, and love the complexity of the discipline. When you step in to the world of nursing, you become a professional, and you become a leader. Since I chose nursing, I haven’t looked back for a second.It takes a special person to be a nurse, and people should never underestimate that.”

Wise and inspirational advice from a very wise young man who will make a huge contribution to the profession of nursing, and indeed, with him the ‘future of nursing’ is in very good hands! We at the Wisconsin Center for Nursing wish him all the best.

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