ATC Pride Award: Stephen Berendson, BSN student
Every day we see students bring their time, energy, empathy, and courage to the classroom and clinical settings beyond. We created our ATC Pride Award to recognize some of these hardworking, lifesaving students we have the pleasure of working alongside day after day. This month one of our RN-BSN instructors, Dr. Kathy Holloway, nominated Stephen Berendson for the award, saying he “exemplifies the definition of a professional nurse.” Having witnessed Stephen’s attention to detail and compassionate spirit over the past three semesters in our online RN-BSN degree program, we certainly agree.
A Seasoned Nurse
Like many of our online RN-BSN students, Stephen comes to the program with a lot of experience in healthcare: As a nurse and, for more than a decade, as a firefighter. While the latter profession conjures up images of buildings and forests ablaze, the work is 80% medical. At the Lehi Fire Department, where Stephen has worked for the past 14 years, they average 12 house fires a year, with a handful of other opportunities to fight fires. The rest of the calls are less about cats stuck in trees than people who need help. Stephen, and the rest of his fellow firefighters, are the first responders, arriving with a fire truck and ambulance to provide help — and not infrequently to save lives.
A Family in Healthcare
Sometimes nursing is in your blood. That’s true for a lot of professions, but we see it firsthand working in healthcare. Many of our students earn their nursing degrees after watching parents or aunts or cousins go through nursing school and establish meaningful careers. Stephen came to the work similarly. His father was a volunteer with the local ambulance and eventually became a nurse instructor, so from a young age Stephen grew up surrounded by medicine and hearing stories of emergency situations.
In high school he worked as an EMT himself and after graduation became a paid call firefighter, sustaining critical patients on the way to the hospital, where nurses took over the situation. Always self-motivated to learn and study more, Stephen quickly gained a lot of nursing knowledge long before he decided to earn his nursing degree. After years of observing nurses stabilizing patients, he decided to do the work himself and began a self-study program, which he finished eight years ago.
Stephen has worked as a firefighter and nurse for almost a decade, one day bringing patients to the hospital, the next receiving them in the ER. He works at a cardiac cath lab now when he isn’t studying for his BSN or on a 48-hour shift at the fire department. It’s a slower nursing pace than the ER nursing position he once held, which is a nice change from the occasionally stressful demands of firefighting. Balancing a family and two important jobs would be enough for most people, but when the opportunity arose for Stephen to earn his BSN degree, he jumped at it. He loves learning, and the self-motivated pace of an online program works great for him — and his schedule.
That he can manage all of these responsibilities would fill us with more than enough pride to have him as one of our students. Stephen, though, goes further, bringing passion and respect for others into everything he does. We’re so glad he’s a part of Ameritech, and we’re thrilled to recognize his work and caring spirit with our ATC Pride Award.
Congratulations, Stephen! Thank you for all you do to contribute to the learning environment at Ameritech College of Healthcare.