Jordan is not your typical nursing student. Supporting himself and his new bride as a self-taught software developer, he could easily continue and build his established business. He smiles as he says, “In case you can’t tell, I’m a people person. I don’t want to be isolated behind a desk, working on a computer. I have these social skills, a passion for healthcare and I’m interested in helping people – this led me to nursing.”
Coming to U-M straight from his nursing undergraduate degree at Wayne State University, Jordan is in his second year of a three year Master’s program at the School of Nursing in the Family Nurse Practitioner program with a concentration in occupational health.
The role of a nurse practitioner is elusive for many of the patients he sees in his clinical work. “There’s a lot of clarification when I meet patients – many don’t know what a nurse practitioner is. Nurse practitioners still see patients and diagnose and can prescribe, but they also work collaboratively with physicians and refer out more complex cases.” The distinction is important to Jordan: he knew he wanted to be in a primary care setting, providing preventative wellness care to reduce illness and hospitalization. Bottom line, “I wanted to get people healthy.”
Recently elected as the biological and health sciences representative to the Rackham Student Government (RSG) board of directors, Jordan is finding areas he can get involved in and make a difference. He says, “When I came to U-M I wanted to get involved at the student level but was surprised to see there were not a lot of grad student orgs to choose from. I was really involved as an undergrad and wanted to continue some of that work here.”
One of the reasons he got involved with RSG was to raise awareness for graduate student programs. He says, “Not many people know about Rackham and their programs. There are so many options.” Funding is one: “My first year here, I received the Rackham Merit Fellowship, and it was really helpful since I was just coming out of undergrad. I didn’t have to work, and it gave me time to study.”
He found some options of his own, including the Rackham Volunteer Corps: “I was excited when I got wind there were some volunteer opportunities through the Rackham Volunteer Corps. This was a huge pillar of my time in undergrad and I jumped in once I heard about this. It’s been so great. I’ve been so grateful for the opportunity for service, to meet people at Rackham, learn about Ann Arbor and get to know the community.” Jordan sees a lot of familiar faces and notes that registration fills quickly for volunteer events. He’s participated in a wide variety of activities, including an arbor day, a field day with community members, after school tutoring at 826 Michigan, and working on the Red Cross blood drives. “It makes me proud to be a part of the community.”
Looking for more, he got involved with MICNP, a new student organization in the School of Nursing, currently in development on campus as a branch of a bigger state level group for nurse practitioners. He says, “I’m always looking for engagement opportunities to learn and explore the rest of the university.”
His experience at the School of Nursing has been great. “I learned from the get-go that everything is so organized here, so together. Students really appreciate our new building, the great classrooms, and the high tech audiovisual capabilities. It all facilitates our learning.” Exposure to experts in a wide variety of medical fields ranks high on his list as well. He explains, “I like working with all the different disciplines and getting lectures from pharmacy and medicine from experts in their field. They can teach a lot more by lecturing to us based on field experience rather than having us read a chapter in a textbook.”
A true people person, Jordan was a little disappointed to find his first year was theoretical. He comments, “I was so eager to get my hands dirty. Last fall, I finally had my first clinical, and it was humbling to see how much I had to learn. By the end of the year, the physician I was working with told me I had learned so much – but still have so much left to go.”
As he steps outside of the School of Nursing, Jordan says, “The sheer size of U-M immediately grabbed me. I am continually impressed by the breadth of campus. It can be tedious navigating it, though. I look at campus and see how many resources there are. There is so much research happening here and it is visible.”
Impressed by his classmates, Jordan finds himself in a strange place. “My priority is spending time with my wife and making our home together. We are ahead of our friends, as recent graduates, newlyweds and homeowners. We are thinking about different things. My new friends at the School of Nursing often have significant work obligations and have families. It is a weird dichotomy.”
Jordan finds that his software work pays the bills, and he spends a few hours often very late at night to program desktop automation systems for a small group of private clients. He explains, “When I was 12 or 13 years old, my whole childhood was video games. I played simple ones that involved a lot of sitting and clicking, and I figured there had to be a way to automate it. I taught myself some basic programming, and when I learned it was a marketable skill, I taught myself more and more and started freelancing. I kept meeting different people in internet marketing in vast little niches and thought maybe I can make programs in this area and make some money. I’ve learned life will never take you where you think it is going to go.”
Between his coursework, clinicals, and software development, Jordan fits in time for things important to him: “I’m a total movie buff. If there’s a new movie out, I’ve probably seen it within the first couple of weeks. I used to play more guitar; music is a big interest of mine. But spending time with my wife is my favorite thing to do.”
Jordan isn’t the only nurse in the family: his mother recently completed her R.N. degree as well. He’s close to his mom and his new in-laws, who recently moved to Tennessee. “We might end up there. The people are so friendly.” Anywhere friendly would be a good fit for this outgoing, energetic nurse practitioner in the making.