You Can’t Beat Experience

You Can’t Beat Experience

Alex Rike is finding his rhythm.

Exactly a year into his job as an emergency department nurse at the University of North Carolina Health satellite campus in Hillsborough, he’s now feeling like a fuller partner in the intricate dance between caregivers. “I’m feeling more confident and more independent as a nurse,” Rike says. “I have to ask people for help a lot less often.”

A onetime deejay (a hobby and a chance to socialize more than a career goal), he likens work in the Hillsborough ED to the music he prefers: something with a little propulsion, a beat, a combination of soul, disco, and whatever gets the blood pumping. “The day can start slowly, then it builds, and crescendos. There’s a cadence. It waxes and wanes throughout the day. It’s a good place for my temperament. It really suits my energy,” says Rike of the pace at Hillsborough.

Since it’s North Carolina, another nursing analogy he likes involves basketball. “I had this roommate who was really good at basketball, so I asked him to teach me how to play. But you know: You can learn to dribble a little bit; you can learn to shoot a little bit; you can learn to play a little defense. But then you try to play a game and it’s way too fast for you. And that’s what it felt like getting started as a nurse.”

This is without adding that the Hillsborough ED has suddenly gone from a quiet outpost, “this little, undiscovered gem,” to everybody’s favorite entry point for medical care. The secret’s out. “I’ve been incredibly fortunate to work with really experienced nurses.”

His own experience has let the dance become a bit slower, enough that Rike has started to think about the future, confident he’s found the right path through nursing.

“I saw nursing as a stable place to be that would allow me to go in a lot of different directions,” he explains. “You can be a standout. You can gain a lot of credibility through working with folks at the bedside. But then you can leverage that credibility and that lived experience and move forward in a variety of different roles.”

“I’m at an interesting crossroads where I’m trying to figure out: How long do I want to stay at the bedside? Where do I want to go from here? What lessons am I learning, and how do I want to articulate or make actionable what I’ve learned and experienced?”

Meantime, he’ll just keep his feet moving to the beat of life and work in the ED. — Steve St. Angelo

Click here to learn more about the programs at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing.

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