Nursing wasn’t Buffalo native Drew Sullivan’s first career. He did work in the health care industry at a home health care agency in Western New York, Venture Forthe, after earning his degree in public accounting from SUNY Fredonia. While at Venture Forthe, he performed a range of duties in marketing, compliance and finance, and spent much of his time developing audits and helping to streamline coordination of care.
“It was while working with our nursing staff,” he says, “that I came to truly admire the work they do.
Sullivan, BS ’19, says he was drawn to nursing as a profession because it directly contributes to the betterment of humanity. “This is a profession that is rooted in restoration, advocacy, empowerment and the facilitation of optimal health for patient life,” Sullivan says. “I have always shared the values inherent within these roles, and I wanted to work in a field where I could help to fully manifest those values.”
And so, he decided to make a change.
Sullivan chose UB School of Nursing for several reasons – it was close to home, provided a diverse array of clinical and academic opportunities, and offered an accelerated bachelor’s (ABS) degree program that allowed him to re-enter the workforce quickly. He says the decision to go back to school was not one he made lightly. “I wanted to shift gears in my life and in my career, but I did not want to spend four or five years doing it. UB’s ABS program provided the perfect opportunity for me to do this.”
Another perfect opportunity for Sullivan was the Susan Greco Scholarship. The scholarship was created by Greco’s family and friends to honor her love of nursing and service to the community by helping a UB student pursue his or her dream of becoming a nurse.
This generosity empowered Sullivan to move forward with a second career. “The scholarship was invaluable in helping to minimize the burden and sacrifice I had to make to pursue this dream. It allowed me to focus wholeheartedly on school without having to worry about finances.”
Today, he works in the cardiovascular ICU at Mercy Hospital as a registered professional nurse in critical care.
“Our patients are some of the sickest patients in the area and their conditions can change very rapidly,” says Sullivan. “As a nurse on the unit you have to be ready for anything and you have to always be exercising your best clinical judgment. Working in the cardiovascular ICU has been extremely challenging but equally rewarding.”
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, his work has become even more challenging. Sullivan quips that it’s been one “heck of a year to start as a new nurse.”
“It has been absolutely amazing to see the unification and dedication that has come about in the wake of this monumental challenge to humanity,” he says.
On the Facebook page dedicated to Susan Greco’s memory, one of her siblings shared this statement: “We started this journey as a way to honor Susan’s love of nursing and keep her memory alive, and we hope the student or students we are able to help will carry a little bit of her spirit with them as they pursue their own careers.”
In providing this support to Sullivan – now a dedicated nurse facing head-on the challenges of working in health care amid a pandemic – they most certainly have.