Brother's Childhood Cancer Inspires Nursing Student's Career Choice

Kent State University student Adam Roman got his first taste of Cleveland’s University Hospitals when he was a young child.

The junior nursing major from Garrettsville, Ohio, was eight years old when his youngest brother, Austin, then 13 months old, was diagnosed with Wilms tumor, a type of childhood kidney cancer.

“We spent a lot of time at UH Rainbow Babies and Children’s,” Mr. Roman explained.



Austin had surgery to remove a grapefruit-size tumor from his left kidney, and returned to the hospital often for treatments and checkups.

Even though Mr. Roman was a young child at the time, the nurses at UH left a lasting impression on him.

“Whenever I went up with him, there were two nurses in particular, who were special. It really helped me and inspired me to want to help people and to get into the nursing field,” he explained.

Austin, now 14 and a high school freshman, has been cancer free for 12 years.  He still heads to UH once a year for a checkup.

When he does, there is a chance he could visit his big brother on one of the units at UH, where Mr. Roman is receiving his clinical training as part of Kent State’s nursing program.

Mr. Roman, 21, still is impressed by the quality of nurses at UH.

“The nurses there are amazing,” he said. “They are willing to teach you as long as you put forth the effort.”

Mr. Roman is one of the first cohorts of nursing students who will be eligible to apply to become part of the new UH Scholars Program, a collaboration of Kent State and UH, aimed at graduating more bachelor’s degree registered nurses to help address the critical nursing shortage here and around the country. The program begins Fall 2019 Semester.

As part of the collaboration, UH will guarantee full-time jobs to 20 Kent State senior nursing majors and provide them with $12,000 in financial support to help defray the costs of their senior year, as long as the students agree to work for UH for two years after graduation. The money may be used to pay for tuition or any other expenses the students might have.

“That sounds amazing,” Mr. Roman said. “It would pay off all my loans.”

More than the money, however, he said the guarantee of a job at UH after graduation was something for which he was already striving. He currently works part-time at UH as a nursing assistant in addition to the hours of clinical rotations he spends at the hospital system.

As part of the new program, UH has agreed to provide additional clinical slots for student nurses from Kent State and will recruit more UH nurses to serve as clinical instructors for the student nurses.

As a requirement of their training, student nurses must rotate through all medical units in the hospital, to gain experience working in a large variety of environments, including surgery, emergency, intensive care, pediatrics, orthopedics and general medical.

Tracey Motter, DPN, RN, associate dean in Kent State’s College of Nursing, said the need for more clinical rotation time at hospitals is key to graduating more bachelor’s degree nurses.

“We can add more university classes at our end, but there is only so much clinical time to go around,” Ms. Motter said.

When new collaboration reaches its full capacity, Kent State will be able to graduate 80 more bachelor’s degree nurses each year, she said.

According to the Nursing Forecaster of the Center for Health Affairs in Cleveland, Northeast Ohio’s nursing shortage is expected to increase to 2,850 by 2020. Baby Boomers are creating the job openings as they retire, and their aging demographic, at the same time, is creating the need for more nurses to attend to their health care needs. Nationally, the shortage is expected to reach one million nurses.

The shortage translates to positive job news for College of Nursing graduates, who already boast an impressive 99.6 percent employment rate within six months of graduation.

Mr. Roman said his work at UH has showed him first-hand that nursing shortage is an everyday reality for hospitals. “Both in my clinical and working there I can tell they have a shortage,” he said.

Mr. Roman said nurses often are floated throughout various units where they are needed to maintain the appropriate level of patient care and safety. “Everybody is willing to chip in and help out as best they can,” he said.

Just as when he was a child, Mr. Roman said he still finds the nursing profession inspiring.

He chose nursing for his career because he wanted to spend his life helping others. “I was always inspired to help people as much as I can and this is one of the best ways I can think of,” Mr. Roman said,

He chose Kent State for his education, he said, “because I had always heard how great the Kent State nursing program was.”

His next step will be deciding where he wants to practice after graduation.  His current preferences are the emergency and intensive care departments.

“I wanted to avoid pediatrics, that’s pretty rough,” he explained, noting how dealing with sick children can be emotionally challenging. “But I think pediatrics might be drawing me in even though I have been trying to avoid it.”

POSTED: Friday, February 8, 2019 12:16 PM
Updated: Friday, December 9, 2022 06:35 AM
Lisa Abraham