Meet David Rodriguez: Veteran, Father, Future Nurse

January 4, 2017

David Rodriguez, a candidate for Roseman’s Veteran to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (VBSN) program knew at a young age that he was destined for the military. Born to a military family, David had a sense of duty instilled in him by his father who served in Vietnam, and his Uncle, who served in the Air Force. At the tender age of 17, David enlisted in the Army after his high school graduation. With an inborn sense of responsibility and discipline, David got through Basic Training though the physical demands it placed on him were not insignificant. Six days a week for two hours a day, David maneuvered through the grueling workouts. After the workouts came the training for the remainder of the day.

David’s Military Occupational Specialty (MOS), or job/duty, was 91B: Medical Specialist (now known as 68W: Healthcare Specialist). It has many responsibilities including ambulance driver, EMT, medical assistant/nursing assistant, CPR instructor, EMT instructor, surgical tech, dental assistant depending upon which unit you are assigned. David’s experience was broad, serving in Infantry units, Armored Cavalry units, Ambulance units (ground and air), and hospitals. In combat units, he treated and maintained the health of the soldiers of the unit while in garrison and while deployed.

During deployment, his additional responsibilities included life-saving procedures such as IV, IO, tracheotomy, venous cut-down, tube thoracostomy, needle thoracostomy, and other minor surgeries.  In the hospital, he took vital signs, wrote SOAP notes, gave injections, completed administrative duties (HIPAA, Infection Control, JCAHO, Education), and assisted in medical supply. David’s service spanned the globe, with his basic training at Fort Knox, KY and Advanced Individual Training (AIT) at Fort Sam Houston, TX.  He’s been stationed at Fort Jackson, SC; Wiesbaden Air Base, Germany; Fort Drum, NY;  Budingen Kaserne, Germany;  Fort Bliss, TX; and Fort Carson, CO. He’s been deployed to Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina (3x), Croatia, Hungary, Iraq (2x), and Afghanistan (2x).  Highly decorated, David received numerous medals and commendations from his time in Iraq and Afghanistan, including his Combat Medical Badge.

2014-03-17-14-37-05-1While in active duty, David considered life after the military and thought about becoming a physician’s assistant.  But it was his growing interactions with nurses that made the most fundamental impact on him. “I have worked with many highly skilled and motivated nurses who taught me many things.  And that is why I am here at Roseman University. I knew I wanted to be a nurse.” Coming home, however, wasn’t easy. A difficult transition for all servicemen and women, David had trouble making new friends, especially with those that had never served. He missed the brotherhood and camaraderie that was part of being in a tight knit unit.  But he dove deep into his school and work, and it provided the social interactions and warmth that he needed to get back to making friends. With a supportive and understanding family, his ties remained strong even amidst his time away. His son, now a pre-med freshman at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, made his homecoming all the more meaningful.

David came to Roseman to be a nurse. Not knowing much about the VBSN program, he learned that his prior experience exempted him from several of the required blocks. A mix of emotions, David discovered that the program is faster and harder than he expected, but with his determination, he’s tenaciously gotten through some late nights what he calls “occasional brain overload”.  He’s found his classmates to be much like a military unit: friendly, helpful, and supportive of one another.  “Everyone is different and it reminds me a lot of the military.  So, it makes me more comfortable with everyone.”  David has enjoyed the block curriculum and has found his learning to be compounded via greater understanding of the block material. This January, David will get started on his clinicals.

As David proceeds though the program, he sees the future clearly. Finishing his program and working either in an oncology center, or in an outpatient clinic as a Nurse Practitioner, he says he hopes for a fulfilling life helping others.  It seems David has already fulfilled that goal in his life’s work to date. Good luck David, and we thank you for your service and contributions to our world.

Vanessa Maniago
Special Advisor to the President
Roseman University of Health Sciences