How the Heck Did I End Up at Hopkins?

How the Heck Did I End Up at Hopkins?

By: Adam Morrow

Congratulations on being accepted into the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. Thank you for taking this leap, because nursing isn’t just a profession. It becomes a part of who you are, a part of your identity. You will always and forever be a nurse.

There are nurses everywhere, but all of you in this room have been invited to be become a Hopkins nurse. This is no small feat, and just about every single one of you is probably asking yourself, “How did I get here?” If you are not asking that question now, you will if you choose to join us. Likely around the first week of classes, and again the second week and the third … I still wonder how the heck I ended up at one of the most prestigious institution in modern health care.

My name is Adam. I hail from Albuquerque, NM, where Bugs Bunny should’ve turned left, and yes, it is in fact a state, and no, you don’t need a passport to visit. But I moved to Baltimore from Denver, CO. It was quite the culture shock; I had never heard of Old Bay (it’s delicious) and I still giggle when they call the hills in western Maryland “mountains.”

Baltimore has good people, fantastic food, and is incredibly proud of their worst-in-the-league baseball team (Go Orioles! Maybe this year will be our year). Like Albuquerque, Baltimore is a diverse community of opposites, and what I see here is an opportunity to do good. An opportunity to learn, help where I can, and later translate what works in Baltimore to other areas around the country that are suffering from the same problems but not getting the media coverage.

Now the harder question: how the heck did I end up at Hopkins?

I still feel inadequate sometimes. But I’ve learned that who I am, and where I come from is what makes me worthy of being here. Like some of you, nursing is a career change for me. And it was absolutely terrifying to shake up my entire life, move my wife and I across the country, and take on a journey where the ending wasn’t written yet.

I spent the better part of two decades in entertainment. First in theater (my bachelor’s is in technical theater), and then in the music and festival industry (I have a master’s in entertainment business). In between the ”feast or famine” of life in entertainment, I managed a rental car agency, managed and taught at a yoga studio, and even worked at an organic grocery store.

The entertainment industry was incredibly fun. And my work in the arts taught me how to think through problems and find solutions, often with very few resources. But eventually I wanted something more fulfilling. When I served as a nonmedical volunteer for an emergency medical service at one of my festivals, I was instantly hooked. I found a new way to serve a population that I already cared about deeply. As the Emergency Service Agency’s administrative director, I became a first responder and then an EMT.

Everybody in this room has felt that calling to care for others, just as I felt called to help each person who needed me at a festival. And care isn’t just about straight A’s—it’s about bringing your heart and your life experience to the bedside. You have to care that someone may or may not go home that day.

Your mind and your heart make you Hopkins material. This is what made me Hopkins material. I still struggle with math and science but I’m committed to learning. And my Hopkins community is committed to helping me succeed while reminding me that my experience before nursing is valuable. Each one of us brings something unique to nursing.

I’m not going to lie though. This program is hard. The stress, the pressure to be successful, the workload, it can be overwhelming. This is by far the hardest thing I have ever done. But Hopkins is what you make of it. This program will take you beyond what you think you can do, and expose you to nursing beyond what you find in a textbook.

Here’s what I do on top of my studies:

  • I hold leadership positions in several student groups (Men in Nursing, the Student Nurses’ Association, the Critical Care Interest Group, and SON&);
  • I support admissions and student affairs events;
  • I am active in the peer mentor program;
  • I work one day a weekend as a student nurse in an adult emergency room in Baltimore City;
  • I work as an EMT at mass gatherings; and
  • I spend quality time with my wife.

Doing a lot is how I learn—and I want to take advantage of everything this program offers beyond the degree itself. Admittedly I’ve taken on a bit too much, but our Hopkins community has so much to offer.

Dean Davidson will talk to you at orientation about what it means to be a Hopkins nurse. I didn’t understand it until recently; it develops while you are here and means something different to everyone.

To me, being a Hopkins nurse means practicing with compassion. Having patience when a person can’t find the words. Advocating for someone in their most vulnerable state. Diligently making nursing stronger and safer for all. And above all else, caring for someone who needs my hand.

This is what makes me Hopkins nurse. Thank you.

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Adam Morrow is a MSN (Entry Into Nursing) candidate who will graduate in 2019. He is originally from Albuquerque, NM, but moved to Baltimore from Denver, CO. He holds a BFA in Technical Theatre and a MS in Entertainment Business; Before his transition to health care, he spent the better part of two decades in the entertainment industry. Adam is a practicing EMT in Maryland and Colorado, and a Patient Care Technician/Student Nurse at the University of Maryland Medical Center’s Adult Emergency Department.

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