How a Boy and Fishing Solidified a Nursing Career

Doug Gregory, RN, Nurse Manager, Regional Burn Center

Nursing is more than a profession. It’s a calling. A desire to help, care and serve those in a time of need. 

Each day, nurses make a difference in the lives of their patients. But most will tell you that sometimes, it’s the patient who leaves a lasting impact.

Doug Gregory, RN, nurse manager for Memorial’s Regional Burn Center, has been a nurse for eight years. Below, he recalls one of his first patients, whose personal story validated his career choice:

“When I was working at a children’s hospital in St. Louis, I met a 12-year-old boy named Kenny.  He had a congenital defect with his liver and it caused a big, protruding belly.

He had been on a transplant list, on which he was waiting for a very long time. So we got to know Kenny very well. The thing that stands out the most is how throughout all his hospitalizations, he just wanted to be a teenage boy and do teenage boy things. 

The local chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation came to him and asked what he wanted. Kenny asked for a four-wheeler, which of course they didn’t give him because we didn’t want him back in the hospital. But the next thing was to go fishing. So with another nurse I worked with, that’s what we did.

We talked with the doctors, who discharged Kenny. We picked him up in St. Louis with the boat, and we drove out to the lake in Litchfield. Kenny was from Gillespie so it was close enough for his family to come as well. His day of fishing turned into his day of driving the boat around the lake. He wanted to do that more than fishing. And he wore the biggest smile on his face I’d ever seen the whole time we were out on the water.

Kenny and his story really hooked me and established my career into nursing. And how just being normal was the most important thing to this little boy who had a belly that stuck out two feet from his body. That’s what did it for me.”