Twelve years ago, when Frank Baez was spending his weekends cleaning patient rooms, bathrooms, and hallways at NYU Langone’s Hospital, he couldn’t have imagined that one day he would go from taking care of patient rooms to taking care of patients.
But that’s exactly what’s on the horizon for this recent graduate of NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing.
When Baez was a recent immigrant from the Dominican Republic, he was finishing high school in Brooklyn and learning English, while working part-time in housekeeping to help support his family. So how did he go from working as a janitor to becoming a nurse?
“I worked as a housekeeper for almost 3 years. While cleaning the rooms and hallways, I observed the interactions between health care professionals and patients and felt that a career in health care suits my values and aspirations,” says Baez, now 29.
He began working in health care by being a patient transporter, taking patients for imaging and other testing. During that time, Baez earned a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish literature with a minor in biological sciences at Hunter College.
After graduating from Hunter, Baez got a job as a unit clerk at NYU Langone Orthopedic Hospital’s special care unit. In this position, he developed a system that improved the process of how patients received their prescriptions after their discharge. While Baez was obviously doing well in his job, he wanted to do even more.
Baez wanted to be a nurse. His colleagues encouraged him to apply to nursing school, and the senior director of nursing even suggested writing his letter of recommendation.
“I became inspired to become a nurse by working with other nurses at NYU Langone Health. Seeing their work on a day-to-day basis and learning how they care for their patients and how they advocate for them inspired me to become one of them,” says Baez.
Because Baez already had a degree, he was accepted into the accelerated program at the NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing. During an intense 15-months, Baez earned a degree in nursing with a 3.5+ GPA. He was inducted into the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing as well.
During his final semester, Baez took the Critical Care Nursing elective, which gave him the opportunity to spend time in the Cardiac ICU. Now, he’s working on a Master’s degree to become an acute care nurse practitioner. “When I took care of my first heart transplant patient, I was impressed by the efficiency and skills of the nurse I worked with,” says Baez. “I also saw the power of medicine and nursing to tide over the patient in critical illness. I want to be a part of that.”
Baez has advice for anyone thinking of becoming a nurse: “I would advise any aspiring nurses to not let any barriers stand in your way. Most importantly, find mentors and coaches. Emulate their attributes and add grit and determination to achieve your goals,” says Baez. “Being in the right place at the right time is just the beginning—one must seize the possibilities. I did.”