GIFTED Spotlight: Jeff Russell, RN

Happy Nurses Week! To celebrate, GIFTED Healthcare is spotlighting five of our incredible and inspiring nurses. Read on to check out today’s spotlight, Jeff Russell, RN, from Lexington, TN.  

Jeff Russell took a unique path as he searched for a career that he is passionate about. He faced health and family challenges along the way, but it all eventually brought Jeff to his career as a telemetry nurse.  

Early Career 

Throughout Jeff’s childhood, he watched his father work in cabinetry, and naturally Jeff learned how to make cabinets at a young age. By high school, he mastered the skill and spent the next two decades expanding his trade. Jeff even ran his own shop over the years, but his career still held a void that he couldn’t put his finger on.  

Fast forward to 2002, when Jeff found himself spending significant time at the hospital as his mother suffered a brain aneurysm. While waiting in the hospital during his mother’s surgery and recovery, Jeff recalls seeing a male nurse for the very first time.  

“I remember seeing a male nurse on the neuro floor at the hospital and it was honestly the first time I realized men could be nurses too,” said Jeff. “My mom’s nurse was awesome and now I know that some of the best nurses are men, but that moment sticks out to me in time.”  

Because of her team of nurses and doctors, Jeff’s mother is still alive 20 years later. These memories stuck with Jeff and when he began to wonder if there was more out there for him in his career, he came back to the comfort he had experienced at the hospital and began to explore career options in the medical field.  

A New Path 

When Jeff began considering going back to school, he knew he wanted to help people. He remembered how many people helped his mother when she was sick and so at the age of 39, Jeff went back to school to become a nurse. It has been 12 years since, and Jeff has no regrets.   

“I knew there was something more fulfilling out there for me and I am so glad I found it,” said Jeff. “Every day in nursing is special. The first year can harden your emotions, but I focus on showing up for every patient.” 

 “I remember one patient, she was suicidal, and would not speak to anyone. I was committed to treating her with kindness and showing up every day until she came around. She eventually did, and we shared a laugh together. That was really nice.”  

“It was through experiences like this one and so many more, that I realized every patient every time I walk through their door deserves my respect and benefit of the doubt no matter what I’ve heard in reports. The humanity in me requires that I do this. There are countless situations and struggles in all of our lives, and I’m there to help each and every patient with no judgment. Just help, be kind, and if nothing else, listen.” 

Jeff’s Own Fight 

In 2015, Jeff began feeling sick and was unable to get a diagnosis for his symptoms. He had multiple appointments with neurologists, but no one could help him. The doctors told Jeff they believed he had Parkinson’s Disease, but they couldn’t provide a test to confirm.  

“I got to the point that I couldn’t work anymore. Nothing the neurologists did helped me so I spent my evenings after work researching cures,” said Jeff. “I eventually found information on Deep Brain Stimulation surgery happening at the University of Ohio and called to make an appointment right away.” 

“I remember going in to see the doctor that day, she looked at the CAT Scan, and she said, ‘I’m going to fix you.’ She did deep brain stimulation to the left side of my brain and helped me a whole lot.”  

Jeff has since had a second surgery to help ease the symptoms that returned in 2018. He took a break from nursing to focus on his own health and recovery but is set to return to work next week on an assignment in Memphis, TN.  

What’s Next?   

Jeff is excited to return to work. He loves travel nursing and cannot wait to explore areas around him while caring for his patients. His health continues to improve and Jeff hopes that his own experience will encourage his future patients.  

Celebrate Nurses Week with GIFTED  

Clinicians make a difference, and we want to celebrate their strength during the month of May. GIFTED Healthcare is highlighting the strength of our clinicians and the difference they make every day on our blog and social channels.  

GIFTED is also giving away $3,000 to celebrate these clinicians. Learn more about how you could win this Nurses Week.  

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