Anthony Nickele, '15 has the sort of bright, effervescent demeanor that arguably betrays the very serious nature of his work. As a critical care nurse for Detroit Receiving Hospital, known for the sickest patients in the Midwest and the pioneers of trauma care, he encounters the worst situations that humanity can bear on a daily basis. As such, his positive outlook comes in quite handy when the going gets rough. Serving large populations in the current state of healthcare can be overwhelming for even the best of care providers. Yet, through it all, he makes it a point to focus his spirit and energy on the person beyond the ailment – training that he learned at Seton Hall.
"Seton Hall prepares you for real world experience beyond medicine. It's holistic practice, taking into account the entire human being," Nickele states. "One of the things that every professor would stress is to never stop truly caring, no matter how overwhelmed you are, or whatever the situation, including end-of-life."
He makes it a practice to sit on people's beds with them, something he learned from Katherine Connolly, an instructor in the College of Nursing. Nickele cites a particular moment when Professor Connolly followed this action with a compliment about the patient's lipstick while holding her hand. This effort made the patient feel not only comforted, but beautiful. It is compassion when patients need it most.
Nickele has spent most all of his career facing some of the greatest challenges in healthcare. His first job post-graduation was in the South Bronx of New York City. It acted as a good precursor for what he would confront in Detroit. "If you saw it on the ten o'clock news, I was taking care of it," he states. Gunshot wounds, stabbings, accidents, drug overdoses, spousal and child abuse. None of it was alien to Nickele. "I once had a mentally ill man try to light me on fire!"
Beyond the challenges, however, the goal of providing the best possible care to the person as an individual never waned.
Occasionally, people will take the time long after their traumatic experience has ended to go back and thank Nickele. A woman who had been involved in an extremely serious truck accident and almost lost her legs came up to him recently to say how grateful she was –for helping to save her life – but also for taking the time to wash her hair. She was Muslim, and in that faith, a women's hair is considered precious. With all of the life-threatening injuries she had sustained, one of the potential by-products could have been a loss of some of her hair. Once the woman was stabilized, Nickele took it upon himself to go back into her room and tend to something that, while not nearly as dire, was important to the patient nonetheless.
Nickele was awarded the distinction of Employee of the Year at his hospital in October. For him, it is all in service to "meeting people where they are in their lives." His job is his calling – and he loves it. He is currently a preceptor to student nurses and hopes to one day go into nursing education in order give back all he has learned from his alma mater about "leadership at the bedside."
Categories: Health and Medicine