Nursing was not Blake Green’s first career, but his initial exposure to the profession changed his life.
“I was working as a social worker in the trauma and burn units at the UAB [University of Alabama at Birmingham] Hospital,” said Green, RN, MSN, FNP-C. “None of my family had been nurses or hospitalized, so that was my first up-close and personal look at what nurses do.”
Instead of pursuing a master’s degree in social work, Green, 38, enrolled in the Georgia Baptist College of Nursing of Mercer University and graduated in 2003.
“From the get-go, I knew I wanted to work in critical care. The adrenaline rush fits my personality,” he said.
Green is a critical care nurse at Atlanta Medical Center, where he values being cross-trained to work with various complex medical patients.
“Working with stroke, heart attack and postsurgical patients makes you a well-rounded bedside nurse,” Green said. “Every day is different and it’s never boring.
“One of the unique things about trauma patients is that usually they didn’t anticipate going into the hospital. One minute they’re driving to work, and the next they’re lying in a bed hooked up to a ventilator. I’m glad to be the nurse helping them through that situation.”
Green doesn’t need to be at work to function as a nurse. In November 2011, he participated in a mother/baby program in Xalapa, Mexico as part of the primary care nurse practitioner program at Kennesaw State University’s WellStar School of Nursing. Flying back from the trip, a flight attendant called for any medical personnel to help a critically ill passenger.
“Blake immediately went forward to provide assistance,” said Genie Dorman, Ph.D., APRN, BC, FNP, a professor at Kennesaw State. “He quickly assessed the man, who was unresponsive and vomiting blood.”
“His vital signs were critically low and he was in shock, but the attendant brought the first-aid kit,” Green said. “When I saw that it was equipped like a miniature code cart — with IV syringes, medications and even an artificial airway — something inside of me felt right at home. My nurse mode clicked in.”
The man had lost an extreme amount of blood due to a tear in his esophagus, but Green inserted an IV and administered fluids and medications that stabilized him for the rest of the flight.
“Ironically, I’m usually an anxious flyer,” Green said. But treating and monitoring a patient thousands of feet above the Gulf of Mexico, he wasn’t worried.
Green’s willingness to take action “to keep a patient alive during a health crisis, which if left untreated would have resulted in his death,” was heroic, Dorman wrote.
Green is pleased that after transfusions and treatment, the patient has recovered.
“One of the most rewarding things for me is when ICU patients return for a visit. You remember them with multiple tubes [inserted] and you get to see them walking around and enjoying life,” he said. “Knowing that I played a part in that is a pretty cool feeling. That’s what nursing means to me.”