In less than six months as a nurse in Regional One Health’s General Intensive Care Unit, Christian Leathley had a moment that encapsulated the emotional rollercoaster that comes with the health care profession.
One of Leathley’s patients was in a car accident, and over the course of those first few days he got to know the patient’s family. After a few days, the patient passed away. Leathley decided to visit the family and offer condolences.
“They thanked me for how we treated their family member,” Leathley said. “The entire family was overwhelmingly nice and great people. It was one of those moments that I felt I made a difference in their lives. Obviously it was a tragic event that they went through. But I think I helped ease their experience, be a little light in their dark time. That made an impact on me and something I hold on to.”
Leathley is new to Regional One Health, the nursing profession and Memphis. The Detroit native attended nursing school at Marquette University in Milwaukee, graduating in December 2016. As he began applying for jobs, he was attracted to Memphis, a city where a friend lives and a place he had visited and enjoyed.
Leathley didn’t plan to return home to Michigan, so he applied for nursing positions around the country. He received offers from various hospitals, but he was drawn to what he knew would be a great learning experience at a teaching hospital in a city with a vibrant scene for young professionals. He wanted to learn from the best in a city where he could find plenty of things to do.
“A lot of people ask why I came to Memphis,” he said. “It’s a combination of things. I like music and the music here is amazing. I visited a couple of times and I love the feel of being in Memphis – going Downtown or to Shelby Farms, my favorite place. I have friends all over the country and geographically it’s a great home base to visit other cities.”
He joked about his co-workers calling him a Yankee, which is part of the friendly culture he appreciates with fellow nurses.
“My co-workers are fantastic people and have been so incredibly nice and welcoming to me,” he said. “It definitely makes going to work easier when you’re with people you enjoy working with. If you have people you work with who are fun to be with it makes the job even better.”
Leathley was one of a few new nurses who started working in his unit around the same time. The other nurses on the unit have helped the new group adjust to Regional One Health, but also helped Leathley as he’s adapting to his new career in a new city. He said he appreciates the learning opportunities that occur daily.
“I have a charge nurse who pushes me. Instead of answering my question right away she’ll ask me what I think,” he said. “I love that. They’re not just giving you all the answers. They encourage you to figure it out and learn things. I think even the nurses who have been here for 20 years have a desire to learn something new.”
Leathley is adjusting to Memphis well. He said the Southern hospitality is wearing off on how he treats patients and families with total respect.
“It’s a different culture in so many positive ways,” he said. “It’s a different lifestyle with Southern hospitality, which really is a thing. I feel like people down here are super nice.”