Dave Rich, a 2019 graduate of NIU’s School of Nursing, was recently named Advocate Sherman Hospital’s 2020 Nurse of the Year in the direct caregiver category.
“David is an amazing nurse and student,” said NIU Presidential Teaching Professor, Jeanette Rossetti. “When I got the news that he won this award, I wasn’t surprised. There is no one more deserving of this.”
Nursing is a second career for Rich who worked in a medical laboratory for eight years before going back to school. He began as a certified nursing assistant at a skilled nursing facility while working on his associate degree, and then chose NIU’s School of Nursing to pursue a bachelor’s degree.
“(My advice to others is) just start back, even if it is one class or two,” Rich said. “There is much support for you from staff and the university. You won’t regret it.”
Rich took courses online and continued to work as a nursing assistant.
“NIU did a great job of preparing me (by offering) program classes that support the working world,” Rich said. “I enjoyed the flexibility of the program while also working full time.”
At Advocate Sherman, Rich participated in the hospital’s nursing residency program and took part in an evidence-based practice fellowship.
Rich is chair of the hospital’s Magnet Seedling Council, serves on the Diversity and Inclusion Council and has represented Advocate Sherman at public events and has spoken about LGBTQ patient care during leadership trainings.
When he is not helping patients, Rich is coaching and mentoring fellow nurses at Advocate Sherman to help them earn certification in medical and surgical nursing.
“Dave is extremely compassionate with his patients and he is very inspiring to his peers,” said Kari Ralston, Advocate Sherman Hospital nurse manager. “He will stop at the drop of a hat to support them.”
Go to NIU’s School of Nursing to learn more about a variety of degree programs available.