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Celebrating National Nurses Month: Meet Michael Schreck

May 6, 2024

Meet Michael Schreck, PMHNP, UPENN Princeton Medical Center MedSurge/Neurology/Oncology/Psychiatry

Michael Schreck

Q: Why nursing?
A: Three days on, four days off.

Nursing as a career scratches two itches that I have in my personality, the desire for continual learning and building meaningful, therapeutic relationships with people.

Q: Why did you choose Drexel for this program?
A: I really must thank two co-workers who are in different NP tracts at Drexel University for encouraging, challenging and giving me the extra push I needed to apply. Sometimes we all need a little push to venture out into one of the best decisions of our lives.

Q: How are faculty and your cohort supporting each other to be successful?
A: I am an old school student, so the undertaking of an online program was intimidating at first. I’m the type of person who desires a sit down over coffee and conversation over material instead of a PowerPoint and a video lecture. Although a lot of learning is self-directed, I never felt abandoned. All professors have been excellent in communication via email and phone conversations when necessary. Ample support has been offered and I never had the feeling that help and resources were beyond my reach. Cohort support has been amazing. Though most of us are separated geographically, we have a text group for mutual encouragement, support, questions and generally to share frustrations, discouragement and laughter. I don’t think I would have survived thus far without my classmates.

Q: What is unique about this program? Why would you recommend it?
A: The PMHNP program at Drexel is very thorough, challenging yet manageable. Lectures have been rich with valuable information that really goes beyond the intellectual book knowledge required but is tempered with personal antidotes and experiences that truly are invaluable for students. The program is rated among one the best and, as expected, is rigorous and difficult. I know that it is preparing me well for board exams and to be a competent practitioner. Sometimes I feel like I’m stretched beyond the breaking point yet pressed on even with some uncertainty if I’m going to make it through the next semester. Thus far, I’m moving ahead.

Q: What is the current state of nursing? And in the face of its challenges, what advice do you have for a person thinking about nursing as a career?
A: I have mixed feelings about the current state of nursing. When a jeweler showcases a diamond, it is set against a black velvet cloth to highlight the brilliance of the diamond. There are extraordinary circumstances that the profession is facing from without and from within. I feel that the pandemic not only brought out the brilliance of nurses but also highlighted the fundamental stressors that are inherent to the system. Nurse burnout is real. Mental health concerns amongst health professionals are real. Unrealistic demands placed upon an already burdened staff are a major concern. Nurses feel undervalued, not supported as needed. Being perpetually short-staffed only amplifies the problem. The shift from patient-centered care to client-based satisfaction backed by out-of-touch administration is another weight placed upon the backs of nurses. Safe staff-to-patient ratios, adequate pay to meet the demands of inflation and health care should be common sense decisions but in some places nurses strike for months to win these basic rights. There are many stressors facing the profession of nursing with an aging population and lack of recruitment of new nurses, however, even with all that, nurses shine with compassionate care, critical thinking skills, timely interventions based on a broad base of theoretical and practical knowledge and peer to peer support that brings a comradery, a sense of community and support that goes far beyond the stressors that are being faced. Are there problems, absolutely, they shouldn’t be swept under the rug but brought into the light. Despite this, the profession itself is in good hands because of the quality of the people that are represented, nurses themselves.

Q: How do you take care of yourself and recharge your batteries?
A: I wish I had a better answer for this question. I must admit, though I’m quick to encourage others, I am not the best at self-care.

It is important to remember that we are not defined by our jobs. I remember beginning my nursing career and getting the advice, when you walk into the hospital building it is essential to leave your home worries behind so you can effectively care for your patients. I believe the reverse is true, when you leave the hospital building, the cares, concerns and worries of the shift should be left behind and not brought with you. Unfortunately, one is easier than the other.

It is essential to take your MYTIME. Time off and being completely away is essential for your own mental health.

Don’t be guilted into doing more. There will always be needs, there will always be shortages, extra money might be offered but it is OK and necessary to say NO — DON’T feel bad about saying NO. Those who are seeking to fill needs will play on this guilt/compassionate mentality to meet their own objectives. Do what is best for you and your family.

It is essential that you have someone to talk to. Either a colleague, a trusted friend or even a professional. What we see and experience daily will be enough to move anyone to tears, and as nurses, we move on to the next patient. These deep emotional experiences, if not processed in a healthy way will show up in other areas of your life. It is so important to be able to process these experiences in a healthy way.

Q: What are three things that you always have on you as a nurse?
A: A pen. I always need to write something down.

My badge — essential to access supplies and computer system in a timely manner.

A bottle of water. Stay hydrated!

Q: Something most people don’t know about me.
A: I spent 11 years living in Nepal and am fluent in Nepali language. I spent months living with semi-nomadic yak herders in the upper Himalayas and truly feel like my home is on the other side of the world.