Air Force vet opts for a busy hospital ER as the setting for “Career 2.5”

After years of flying in F-11, F-4 and F-18 aircraft for the U.S. Air Force, Col. Byron Nash wasn’t quite sure what to do with himself when he landed for the last time. The open days of retirement loomed, and at first he opted to fill them by working in the defense industry. That didn’t last long.

Byrons Picture -2“I always liked being able to take care of people, and so I began to think about how I could do that from a healthcare perspective,” says the Galveston, Texas native and father of three daughters in their 20s. “I had access to the GI Bill funds for education, so I began taking some night courses in nursing. I liked it a lot, so applied at two different nursing schools. I got accepted at both.”

That led to a stint at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, where he completed a one-year, accelerated program. That’s challenging for anyone, much less a student who’s a bit older than average.

“It was the most challenging academic program I’ve ever had to deal with,” Nash recalls. “I could only study and sleep; eating was on the run. We had 20 academic hours each semester, and clinical rotations on top of that. Every Tuesday was a midterm or a final.”

Like all student nurses, Nash found himself in various parts of the hospital during his rotations. He did time on a Med-Surg unit, as well as pediatrics. It was there that his precepting nurse put him into a pediatric ER rotation, and that’s where he had his ‘a-ha’ moment.

“I went to two more ER rotations after that, and knew that was what I wanted to do,” Nash says.HCA-StacieByronED

After about three years at another facility, he came to HCA’s Methodist Specialty and Transplant Hospital. He’d been a patient at the facility once, and was impressed with the quality of care he received. Since joining the Methodist team last October, he’s found that to still be the case.

“The culture is great,” he says. “I think the camaraderie among the nurses I work with is outstanding. When a patient comes in, you’re not on your own; everybody jumps in and helps. Our leadership also is visible and engaged. At some places you just sit and talk about change, but here people are getting up and doing it. There is an ongoing effort to make things better.”

It makes for long days, says the father of three, many of whose coworkers are the same ages as his two older daughters.

“I usually go home and go to bed,” he laughs. “It’s interesting to have bosses the age of my children, but that’s fine.”

That ‘go along and get along’ attitude, coupled with an attention to detail, has made Nash an invaluable part of the Methodist team, says Stacie Miller, Nursing Director – Emergency Services.

“I am a military wife of 23 years, so we had an instant connection,” Miller says. “I may be biased, but one thing I’ve found about hiring military people is that are incredibly loyal, dedicated and thorough. Byron’s on “Career 2.5,” and he may not be the fastest guy on his feet but his peers want that character over speed any day. He’s always longing to improve things. We can talk all day about his being older, but I’d rather focus on how he has the team’s back. The military instills that team-support concept, and you just can’t get it anywhere else.”