In six brief words, Justin McIntyre summed up the basic, vital aspect of his calling.
“We save people’s lives every day,” said McIntyre, a registered nurse who lives in Danville and works in the emergency room of the Geisinger Medical Center.
On a recent Monday, McIntyre explained he’s happy to welcome his cousin Erin Hornberger-Wetzel to their chosen profession.
The two grew up together, and she’s really more like a sister than a cousin to him, so he was especially honored that she wanted him to attach her nurse’s pin to her crisp white uniform during Luzerne County Community College’s annual pinning ceremony.
The annual ritual, held during a brunch at the Genetti Best Western Hotel and Conference Center in Wilkes-Barre, honored 129 graduates who are prepared to take the registered-nurse test.
Ask any of the graduates why they want to become nurses, and you’re likely to hear comments about compassion, comfort and helping the patients heal.
“You’re not going to be a good nurse unless you have a heart,” said Hornberger-Wetzel, 32, who hails from the Shamokin area.
But it’s safe to say everyone’s path to the nursing diploma was unique.
For Nicole Rundle, 27, of Orangeville, the path may have begun when she was a little girl, recuperating from burns in a Shriners Hospital and being impressed by the kind nursing staff, one of whom, she recalls, named a daughter after her.
Brianna Battista, 26, of Bloomsburg, has been working as a licensed practical nurse, and becoming a registered nurse is the next logical step.
Similarly, her twin sister, Jackie Battista, has been working as a surgical tech, tending to surgical equipment and supplies before, during and after surgeries. This will be a gateway to more opportunities, Jackie Battista said. Incidentally, the sisters’ father, Glenn Battista couldn’t be prouder of his daughter’s accomplishment.
“Having two nurses in the family will make understanding medical issues a lot easier,” he said.
For others, the convenience of attending LCCC played a role.
“I had my kids early. When they were old enough, I went back to school,” said Angela Bialecki, 40, of Bloomsburg, mother of two teenagers who “just interviewed for a job in the operating room at Geisinger in Danville.”
Then there’s the factor of knowing you’ll be qualified for jobs in a field with many openings, with both the Geisinger Health Care System and Wilkes-Barre General Hospital recruiting and hiring nurses.
“The economy led me to choose this,” graduating nurse Hornberger-Wetzel said, explaining she worked as a designer for several years after earning a degree in that field from Millersville University.
Most of the 100 graduates who attended the pinning ceremony accepted their pins from Dr. JoAnne Chipego, chair of the department of nursing, but several invited family members who are in the nursing profession to perform that task.
“I’m very proud of her,” said nurse Sheryl Hopczey of Hazleton, who pinned her daughter, Dana. “It’s so nice to see her carry on what I do. I always liked helping people, and I see the same qualities in her. She’s very kind and caring. It’s a good fit for her.”