Passion for job drives male nurse

(The Omaha) When he was taking classes last year at Iowa Western Community College, Nick Kuster stood out.

The Neola, Iowa, resident — who now works in the emergency department at Council Bluffs’ Mercy Hospital — was one of just four men among the dozens of women working on their nursing degrees.

Kuster, 33, said he’d never considered nursing as a career path until a few years ago, when he was looking for a new line of work. He’d been working in family businesses, painting with his father and doing landscaping work with his brother, but he’d also begun pitching in with the local volunteer fire department.

On calls that ranged from helping a person who’d fallen down to people suffering from heart attacks, Kuster said he found himself particularly enjoying the medical side of the job.

“I wanted to be a firefighter first, but I started taking care of patients in the ambulance and realized I had a passion for taking care of people,” he said.

He enrolled at Iowa Western, where Tori Christie, dean of enrollment services, said administrators are always looking to recruit more male students for female-dominated programs. It’s a difficult task, she said.

In 2009, 2010 and the first part of 2011, a total of 462 students graduated from Iowa Western’s nursing programs. Of that group, 46 were men.

For his part, Kuster said he doesn’t think much about being a minority in his field. “There’s good female nurses and there’s good male nurses. To me, what I’ve seen, is all about how much passion somebody has. You can tell if somebody has passion for what they do.”