Minnesota Nursing magazine

Jeff Aday

A whirlwind of learning experiences

Jeff Aday, a MN ’15 grad, finds the right fit in a two-nurse hospital
Brett Stursa

After earning a degree in biology from the University of Minnesota Morris, Jeff Aday went on to pursue a Master of Nursing degree at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. The MN program at the School of Nursing is an accelerated 16-month program for students with a non-nursing degree who want to enter the nursing profession. After earning his MN degree, he accepted his first position as a registered nurse at a 15-bed hospital in the rural community of Graceville, Minnesota. We asked him how providing health care in a rural community differs from his urban clinical experiences, how his education at the School of Nursing prepared him for this role and how he copes with the stressors that can come from being a nurse.

Was it difficult finding your first nursing job?
Finding my first opportunity as a nurse was both as simple and complicated as I’d heard from mentors and professors. Jobs seem to exist at many different types of facilities, but finding a good fit where I could best develop my nursing skills required a bit of time. I didn’t want my first opportunity as a nurse to turn into a situation where I viewed the work I did as a job rather than a chance to advance in this field.

What’s your first nursing position like?
I currently work at Essentia Health-Holy Trinity Hospital in Graceville, which provides health care to the town and surrounding communities in this rural area of Minnesota. It has been a whirlwind of learning experiences. I love not knowing who is going to come for services and how my abilities to give good care to those who need it match up with the needs presented.

How is providing care in a rural community different than your clinical placements in the city or suburbs?
“The most valuable aspect that was emphasized was the theoretical knowledge and approach to the profession of nursing.”
There are only two nurses in the entire facility (an RN with another RN or LPN). This appealed to me because it meant that I am able to develop in the entire spectrum of nursing instead of developing in only one specific area. While my clinical nursing skills have been developing, my ability to think on my feet has grown leaps and bounds, as my facility manages inpatient, outpatient, emergency department and surgical patients. This sounds like an overwhelming variety, but being in a small town and in a critical access hospital, the number of patients is usually manageable. Based on my experience in this hospital, I would say the health care needs are not vastly different than what I had experienced during school, but some services that are available in a metropolitan area are at times two-three hours of transport away or only available during certain days of the week or month.

What do you do to take care of yourself?
I have several friends who work in EMS, which is where I also gained my initial experience in health care. I rely on these people to help debrief about situations that arise during an emergency, a strategy that has served us well in past situations. Artwork also has a hand in destressing; I dabble in drawing still life in charcoal. I find it one of the most frustrating and satisfying things to put my mind at ease and shift focus from the intensity of emergency care. I also rely heavily on my American Indian roots—I am member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe—to keep me at equilibrium via song and prayer, which I learned while growing up in Arizona.

How has your education at the School of Nursing prepared you to be a nurse?
The most valuable aspect that was emphasized was the theoretical knowledge and approach to the profession of nursing. Understanding why the type of care is being performed before knowing the how has enabled me to have a better grasp on the ebb and flow of health care in general as well as nursing.