Emergency Nursing: Interview With Matthew Beckelman, RN

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Emergency Nursing: Interview With Matthew Beckelman, RN

A recent grad success story

By Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, CPC, NC-BC
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Matthew Beckelman, RN, Beverly Hospital, Montebello

Please share the personal journey that led you to nursing.

After graduating from high school in 2001, nursing wasn’t even in the picture for me. In fact, I was really into music and spent most of my time playing in a Christian rock band while simultaneously working in construction, installing custom windows and doors.

I changed majors so many times. I finally found what I thought was my way: studying biology and pre-med. Upon realizing how much debt I would rack up and the time it would take to become a doctor, I backpedaled once again. A friend of mine with whom I shared my dilemma encouraged me to look into nursing — ER nursing.

I feel that nursing sort of chose me. I was accepted to Golden West Community College in Huntington Beach, the town where I grew up. I hardly thought that everything would happen as fast as it did. It was the first time in my life that all the pieces started to fall together in a way that made sense.

Can you describe the arc of your nursing career up until now?

Golden West College’s nursing program didn’t offer an emergency nursing internship, but I knew that was what I wanted. A friend of mine who worked in the ER at Hoag Hospital Newport Beach offered to connect me with his department director to determine if he would precept me.

I ended up negotiating with the education department at Hoag and my school to create a 100-hour ER preceptorship. Needless to say, my school supported me, which solidified my path to becoming an emergency nurse.

When I graduated in 2011, it was a difficult time to find a job in nursing because many older, retired nurses were being forced back into the field due to the bad economy. Times were tough, the market was flooded with experienced nurses, and hospitals with open positions were looking to hire staff they didn’t have to train.

Though my internship was successful, the only position available in the ER at Hoag was a tech position with a salary I couldn’t afford to live on. So, I scoured the Internet and reached out to every contact I had in the industry. I managed to get interviews, but I couldn’t get a job without hospital nursing experience. I landed a job in home health that lasted for the first 18 months of my career. Home health was a good experience, but was just not for me in the long run.

After my initial 18 months, I reapplied to hospitals throughout my area, all of which were still looking for hospital-experienced nurses. I was desperate, so I began applying to every nursing registry in Southern California (well, at least 12 of them).

They all said I couldn’t do registry work without acute care experience, but I found one lady who was willing to take a chance on me. She said, “You’ve got some real guts to take this on. I’m going to give you a shot.” When I told her I wanted ER positions, she just about laughed me out of her office, but she allowed me to give it a try.

On the day of my first shift at Beverly Hospital ER in Montebello, I arrived an hour early to get my bearings, settle in and figure out where things were. I got the nervousness out of my system and never looked back — I just went for it.

Within three months, I was working for multiple hospital ERs and had three job offers. I took a position at Beverly because they fought the hardest for me and because I really liked the people there. They made me feel like I was part of their team. They took me under their wing and didn’t hold it over my head that I wasn’t experienced. They saw my willingness to work hard to earn a spot on their team.

I was hired fulltime in March of 2013. Just this week, I was offered the position of fulltime charge nurse on the day shift, which I happily accepted.

What’s next for you in your nursing career?

I have my ADN now and I’ll have my BSN by mid-2016. Meanwhile, I’m trying to get into the acute care nurse practitioner program at UCLA.

I really love the sciences and every aspect of surgery. My specific goal is to enter the field of trauma, trauma surgery and cardiothoracic surgery. There aren’t many NPs certified in this area, but it’s what I really want. I’ve observed three cardiothoracic surgeries now. Watching someone’s heart beat outside of their chest is an incredible thing to witness.

One of my other career goals is to become certified as a flight nurse in order to get even more trauma experience. I will need five years in acute care to become a flight nurse, but it would be a great thing to do per diem throughout my career; I’m an adrenaline junkie. There’s no greater calling than flying out to a massive wreck or some other incident and to be on the frontlines,
saving lives.

What could you do as an NP with such specialization?

Within a trauma center, I could work alongside the surgery team, the P.A.s, the M.D.s, the techs and the rest of the team, and basically participate in the surgery within my scope of practice. I could also be closely involved in pre- and post-op care, assessment and patient management. I could serve as a valuable resource or bridge between the surgical team and the ICU team.

I hope to create relationships with physicians and surgeons who will be willing to support me in working within the full scope of my practice as an acute care nurse practitioner. The role of NPs in acute care is expanding exponentially. Some facilities even have NPs serving as hospitalists.

What do you most love about being a nurse?

I’m very much a person who likes a fast pace. I’m high-energy, but I’m also very mellow and don’t get pushed out of my comfort zone very easily. I’m always doing something, whether I’m at work in the ER or tinkering at home in my garage.

I’m a people person. I love working with people in their most vulnerable moments and having a chance to make them smile or laugh. Nursing has worked out for me far beyond anything I could ever have imagined.

What’s the philosophy that makes you so driven and focused?

For me it’s always been hard work and drive, going after what I want and not waiting for it to happen to me. The more you’re willing to push yourself and set yourself apart, the more you’re going to succeed.

I helped create a nursing student preceptor program at our facility and it’s worked out great thus far. I have a heart for new nurses and nursing students; I was in a similar place to where they are now. I tell them that you have to be different from the other people who are trying to do what you’re doing. You have to be unique and make an impression.

When I interview nurses for positions in the ER, I ask myself how the interviewee is conducting himself or herself. Are they confident? Are they coachable? Are they someone I want to hang out with? Are they special? Are they sharp?

When I was in the market for a job, I’d submit an online application, but then I’d put on a suit and a tie, go to the facility, find the unit that was hiring and ask the secretary if I could talk to the charge nurse or DON. Sometimes, you just have to show up, get some face time and show them who you are.   

This article is from workingnurse.com.

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