LOUISVILLE, Ky. — As college graduates walk across the stage, some are heading straight to vital health care jobs spotlighted during a difficult year.
Two recent graduates of the accelerated nursing program at Bellarmine University were impacted by the role doctors and nurses had in helping patients, influencing their decision become nurses.
While a degree in health care was always in his genes, Brian Ullrich did not originally plan to become a nurse.
“My mom's a nurse, and my dad works at a the hospital, so growing up it’s always been in the family,” Ullrich said.
Ullrich graduated from Bellarmine in 2016 with a degree in environmental science and anthropology. After graduation, he took some time to explore new places, doing support work for people with disabilities while abroad.
That support work inspired him to go back to school to get a nursing degree. The COVID-19 pandemic forced Ullrich and his class to become adaptable to learning online.
“I think it's really prepared our class and anyone who's in the nursing programs now, just to be prepared for anything that comes,” Ullrich said.
When Ullrich and his classmate Mohammad Faqier first enrolled in the program, they didn't know a pandemic was coming, but there is a lot that is unexpected in the health care field.
Faqier was first inspired to become a nurse growing up in Afghanistan, watching doctors and nurses volunteer to treat students at his school during wartime.
“We had a health care organization establish a tent in one of our school yard, and they were just treating students and the students who [were] casualty of war,” Faqier said.
Faqier couldn’t pursue that interest in his home country, but followed that calling to the United States. He earned two other degrees in the medical field before coming to Bellarmine to study nursing.
Living through the pandemic as nursing students had an impact on Faqier an Ullrich, only further proving their desire to join the health care field.
“Seeing great nurses, great doctors and they just put so many hours and take care of their patients and [that] just inspires me,” Faqier said.
Ullrich originally wanted to do some sort of community nursing, but the pandemic shifted his interest into nursing in the ICU.
The Bellarmine students got a hands-on experience at Broadbent Area, helping to distribute vaccines. But even in a world without COVID-19, there’s always going to be a need for nurses.
“What you're doing is helping people, you know whether there's a pandemic or not a pandemic,” Ullrich said.