Never underestimate the age at which an experience can have a lifelong impact.
For Jordan McKay, ’18, it started when he was 4-years old.
“My oldest brother, Matt, was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia at the age of 16,” he said. “Over the next two years, Matthew went through treatment at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite.”
McKay visited the hospital often, witnessing the daily care his brother received, until Matthew passed in 2001.
“That experience affected my entire family and left a lasting impression on me,” he said. “Ultimately, my goal has been to care for families who find themselves in the same position my family was in years ago.”
McKay came to Georgia Gwinnett College as a chemistry major with hopes of laying the groundwork for a medical degree. By his second semester, he had shadowed local doctors and realized that it was the nurses who spent the majority of time with patients.
“I felt I would be able to make more of a difference in the lives of patients as a nurse,” he said, “so I changed my goals.”
McKay applied and was accepted into GGC’s competitive nursing program, where he received individualized attention through small class sizes, faculty willing to answer any question and a learning environment that allowed him to gain a deeper understanding of the nursing craft.
“I was given many outstanding mentors in our GGC faculty who have served as role models in my professional development,” he said. “At times, I was required to work with peers, which helped me learn how to function as a team, and I was required to give many presentations, which helped me learn how to teach others as well as develop a confidence in public speaking.”
All his work culminated with receiving the Pillar Award, which is given to a nursing student who embodies GGC’s four pillars: scholarship, leadership, service and creativity.
By graduation day, McKay had six job offers from area hospitals, including one from the place that influenced his educational journey.
“When I found out I was extended an offer to work at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, at my dream job, it was hard to even speak to the HR representative on the phone,” he said. “I was so excited that I was shaking and had tears in my eyes.”
McKay quickly accepted and currently works as a nurse for children who have been diagnosed or suspected to have blood disorders or cancer. Now a member of the GGC Alumni Association, McKay relies on the mentors, education, training and skills he gained at GGC.
“GGC set me up for success in so many ways, it is almost impossible to account for them all,” he said. “Through our nursing program’s relationship with the community, I was given the opportunity to gain hands-on experience at our local hospitals in clinical rotations and build clinical skills in a true healthcare environment with real, complex patients.”
Today, McKay does everything from assessing patients for changes in health status to administering medication to educating patients and families on treatments.
“And since we are a children’s hospital … play,” he said. “I feel honored to be trusted with the lives of children and to be able to be a part of a world-class team. My work is incredibly gratifying. I cannot imagine myself doing anything else.”
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