Just Folks: Lebanon man discovers life’s work in nursing

When Jonathan Roman started working at Good Samaritan Hospital at Fourth and Walnut streets eight years ago, he was not thinking about a career in health care. Roman, then 16, landed a job in the snack bar at the hospital, and that led him down a different path.

“Previously, I worked as a dishwasher in a restaurant. I got a job here in the snack bar and I worked here for about two years, then I transferred to patient transport,” Roman recalled.

Now 24, the Lebanon resident is looking forward to graduating as a Registered Nurse in July from the Reading Hospital School of Health Sciences, where is a full-time student.

Roman said when he began working in patient transport at the Lebanon hospital, he received a lot of compliments

Nursing assistant and student Jonathan Roman leaves a patient s room after taking vital signs last week in the Good Samaritan Hospital. Roman said he discovered his career in nursing through a program designed to help those interested in health care get the training needed. (Jeremy Long / Lebanon Daily News)

about his abilities to interact with patients.

“One of the benefits that I enjoyed about patient transport was that I got to see the whole workings of the hospital, because I got to go to every unit taking patients to different tests, so I got to know the nursing staff pretty well,” he said.

Because of his bedside manner and handling of patients, the staff encouraged him to pursue nursing, he said.

“My supervisor at the time, Theresa Clinger, was very pivotal in helping me move forward. She encouraged me to take advantage of the cross-training that they had offered at the time for nursing assistants,” he said. He has been working as a nursing assistant for the past four years.

Initially, he said, he thought about a career in radiology.

“I never thought about nursing,” Roman said. “I didn’t know what nursing entailed at all. I took the cross-training course and I learned a lot.”

At the time, the hospital offered the course – a three-day class learning how to take patients’ vital signs, how to walk patients to the bathroom and other ways to help patients in the hospital, he said. The course is no longer offered.

Roman said he was taking courses in the health-care field at HACC Lebanon when he decided to take advantage of another program the hospital offers.

“I became a nursing assistant.” He said. “I saw the joy of being a nurse.”

Roman said it was the patient interaction that drew him to nursing.

“Everyone has a story, and just listening to them and being there for them in their time of need is what really drew to nursing,” he said.

As a nursing assistant, Roman helps the registered nurses attend to the everyday needs of the patients, such as meals, going to the bathroom, turning and repositioning patients in bed, baths, taking vital signs. His supervisors work around his school schedule, but he works about 20 hours a week.

Roman said Good Samaritan’s tuition-reimbursement program for nurses was a plus for his career.

“One of the benefits of working here in the hospital is that they also offer tuition reimbursement,” he said. “They have a program called Be A Healthcare Professional. They reimburse you each semester and offer you a three-year contract here.”

The program is designed to support and encourage employees who are enrolled or plan to enroll in an associate degree program to become a Registered Nurse or Respiratory Therapist, according to hospital website. Employees must meet the eligibility requirements, agree to work for the health system while attending school, and commit to work for the health system after graduation.

“I received a lot of support from my managers, all the staff, in pursuing my nursing degree,” he said.

Roman works on 2 East, the medical-surgical floor at the hospital. “We deal with a lot of orthopedic patients – hips and knees; patients who have fallen, especially during the winter, come in. I truly enjoy (working with) the patients and the families,” he said. “Once we get the patients comfortable and the family sees that there is someone there that is going to care for their loved one, that’s an awesome feeling you can have as a nursing assistant. You’re positively influencing someone in their life.”

Roman said he is grateful for the program at the hospital.

“It’s a huge blessing in my life,” he said. “I don’t believe I would have been able to go to school without that program. It has helped me so much.”

Roman said his mother and stepfather, Maria and Rei Ortiz of Lebanon, are very supportive of his career choice.

“My mother and father are very encouraging. My sister is very encouraging. They’re very proud of me,” he said.

When he’s not studying or at work, Roman said, he enjoys spending fun times with his family and friends. “Being able to come home, spend time with family and catch up on things that are going in their life – I think that’s huge in my life,” he said.

When some of his cousins learned he was becoming a nurse, he said they made fun of it “because they didn’t understand what a nurse does. They respect now what I do, and it’s neat to see that.”