As a little kid, Eric Hartley was unsure about where life would take him professionally. When relatives and friends highlighted his assets of genuine care and compassion, he applied to (and was accepted at) different schools for both nursing and education – fields that suited his core strengths well. While Eric wouldn’t make the decision to pursue nursing until his senior year of high school, he relates his first nursing experience to when he was just 11 years old. Eric’s brother lay before him in a medically induced coma, having had a brain tumor rupture while sleeping.
“I saw him in the ICU post-op,” Eric says. “[The] nurse came over to me, bent over to my eye level, and told me that the tubes that were connected to him were important and I shouldn’t touch them, but I can touch him and talk to him … she assured me that he would be able to hear me and months later my brother confirmed that he could hear everyone that came to see him, which made me trust nurses even more.”
That event may have had more influence than Eric acknowledges. Today Eric is enrolled in his senior year at the Rhode Island College (RIC) School of Nursing. He spent the past three years working as a research assistant at Rhode Island Hospital, primarily working with patients who suffered from a devastating brain disease called glioblastoma multiforme. He spent countless hours entering data, shipping brain tumors to the central lab, and visiting with patients. He also co-founded the Community Health and Service Task Force at RIC, which focuses on the homeless in Rhode Island by providing them with resources and education to succeed.
Eric was inducted into the Delta Upsilon-at-Large Chapter of STTI in April 2015. He also holds membership in Phi Gamma Chapter. He currently serves as a Junior Leader for Delta Upsilon Chapter and was recently elected to the chapter’s Governance Committee. Eric plans to assist Phi Gamma Chapter’s membership committee after finishing his degree. His local experience with both chapters will soon broaden significantly as he assumes an international role as co-chair of STTI’s Next Generation Leader Task Force alongside the illustrious Dr. Carole Liske.
“Since induction, one year ago, I never would have imagined the opportunities that have happened in my nursing career because of STTI, and they are always willing to push you to your fullest potential,” says Hartley. “I have been very lucky with senior members of my chapters who love to engage younger members, and encourage us to take leadership roles.”