April 15, 2013, was the kind of day any operating nurse is ready to handle, but hopes will never come.
For Stephen Sladek, the aftermath of Patriot’s Day—also known as Boston’s beloved marathon Monday—was a life-altering experience he will remember for the rest of his life. When Stephen’s hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, received 35 patients who were injured in the Boston Marathon explosions just two miles away, he and his coworkers stood ready. “It’s hard to explain what your mind does in a situation like this,” says Stephen, who joined the operating room nurse staff full time at Brigham and Women’s in June 2012. “I had to push the emotions into the back of my head and focus on what we needed to do. I had to do my job.”
Less than one hour after two bombs detonated near the finish line of the world’s oldest and most prestigious marathon, Stephen was in surgery with a woman who suffered a massive lower extremity injury. In the end, his surgical team was able to save her foot. “That was really gratifying,” he says. “I will never, ever forget this patient. I’ll never forget any detail of anything that transpired on Monday.”
A Longtime Dream
For as long as he can remember, Stephen wanted to be an OR nurse. After graduating high school in 2003, he went immediately to Aria Health School of Nursing for a diploma in nursing and an associate degree. Thereafter, Stephen worked for Aria Health’s Torresdale Campus in Philadelphia for five years, then became an OR travel nurse. His second assignment was Brigham and Women’s, and after a year-long post, he was offered a job.
“I fell in love with the city of Boston and this hospital,” says Stephen. “The things I’ve seen there amaze me. We can do so much here and I’m proud to be here.” Stephen’s background in vascular, orthopedic, neurologic and trauma was especially useful during the Boston Marathon tragedy, with many soft tissue and vascular trauma cases coming into Brigham and Women’s—which received the most patients of any area hospital.
Enhancing his Resume
Stephen has been a BSN student at American Sentinel since fall 2012. Although his hospital hired him without a BSN, he knew one day his lack of one could become an issue. “I didn’t want to find myself in a position where I couldn’t get a job because I didn’t have it,” says Stephen.
Extensive research led him to American Sentinel—and he says the program thus far is a great fit for his needs. “I love that I’ve been able to focus completely on nursing coursework. Plus, everyone at American Sentinel has been great, from the financial aid office to my student success advisor to my professors. The school has gone above and beyond what I expected. Everyone has been there to help me succeed.”
Camaraderie and Hope
Being so close to—and involved in—a national tragedy has changed Stephen forever. And while Monday’s events were difficult and emotional, he says there was a special unity about that day.
“People came together,” he says. “I’ve never in my life been in a situation where I’ve seen so many people come together to help one another. It was really nice to be a part of and nice to know that I live in a city where people willingly put themselves in danger to help a fellow Bostonian.”