Compassion, empathy, commitment, and discipline are traits that have been instilled in me from a young age. Growing up with a father who was an infantry officer in the United States Marine Corps, I was constantly reminded of the importance of having the ability to lead in situations that were uncomfortable, stressful, or fear-inducing. Suffering a traumatic brain injury at the age of 13, I was first introduced to the field of emergency medicine when I was flown to a trauma center for an emergent craniotomy. Before I almost lost my life, flight paramedics, nurses, and physicians were diligent and fluent in their efforts to provide me with life saving measures. The professionalism and dedication that was shown to me inspired me to pursue a career in emergency medical care, in the hopes of one day playing a role in saving lives the way I was saved.
Having been given the great honor of working as a clinical technician in a trauma intensive care unit at the same hospital that I was flown to 11 years ago, I was surrounded by some of the best and brightest physicians, nurses, and respiratory therapists in the country each day. From my first day working in the unit, it was evident that preparedness, a trait that I have crafted since I was awarded the Eagle Scout award in high school, was a crucial and necessary quality to uphold. Almost every day, there was an emergency that required critical thinking, communication, and mental fortitude from every team-member to ensure a successful outcome for the patient.
I remember the adrenaline rush of hearing my first ‘code’ alarm in the ICU. I rushed into the room and was directed to begin high quality chest compressions. Immediately, I relied on my training to maintain precise tempo and depth of compressions, while listening for direction from the attending physician. “Those are excellent compressions, Conner. We’re getting a great rhythm.” These words after completing one round of CPR filled me with pride, knowing that I played a crucial role in allowing this patient at least a little more time for her loved ones to come say their goodbyes.
This event reinforced in me the fact that one must be physically fit and have the mental fortitude to be able to go to any length to provide the highest level of critical care. I’ve always been disciplined in the gym and with my physical training, but this moment made me realize that I must adapt my training regimen to be prepared for any situation that might force me to push my body to its limits in the midst of saving a patient. Having altered the way I exercised each day before work during my first year in the ICU, with a focus on fueling my body adequately, I enhanced my preparation for critical situations even before they occurred. I can proudly say that before starting nursing school this past August, I provided CPR to 37 patients during my time as a clinical technician and volunteer EMT, and I am filled with pride knowing that all 37 patients achieved ‘ROSC.’
To enhance my mental stability at work, I also started meditating on a daily basis, and committed myself to learning at least one new topic or idea in relation to my passion of emergency medicine each day. Whether it be watching a team run a simulation in the trauma bay at a level 1 trauma center on YouTube before dinner, or reading a scientific journal article on ruling out cervical collars without the use of diagnostic imaging, I prioritized learning outside of the classroom to increase my depth of knowledge that can potentially help me in a critical scenario in my future career as a healthcare provider.
I was an exercise science major in my undergraduate studies at High Point University with a focus in advanced nutrition and kinesiology, so I understand at a deeper level the complexities of achieving and maintaining a high level of physical fitness. In the hopes of one day becoming an advanced practice provider, I want to practice what I preach. If I educate a patient on the benefits of physical exercise and nutrition, I’d like to at least be a model for the patient to show how altering one’s lifestyle for the better can truly lead to happiness and overall health. Further I must be mentally strong to ensure I can devote all my attention to a patient in tumultuous times, allowing myself to reflect afterwards to learn and grow. With this scholarship, I will be encouraged to remain diligent in my studies and personal development, with a focus on always striving for mastery, in a field that demands excellence.