One Career, Many Paths: One Nurse’s Story


Written with contributing author Linda Robinson, MSN, CPXP, RN, Vice President of Clinical Excellence, MDM Healthcare 

Rick Rolfsen, DNP, RN, has had an unconventional pathway to his successful nursing career. In a recent PX Space podcast interview, host Linda Robinson MSN, CPXP, RN, spoke with Rolfsen, who is a friend and former colleague. In the interview, Rolfsen shared his insights on the nursing profession, his teaching experiences, and how his career as a nurse has allowed him to pursue his passions, including a fun opportunity with the Cincinnati Bengals.

“My path to nursing was a little less traditional than most. Growing up I didn’t think much about nursing as a career as I played a lot of sports and initially was studying to be an athletic trainer in college,” he said.

He explained his career goals started to change as his studies continued and he was given a suggestion to consider studying to become a nurse.

“It was the mid-eighties, and there weren’t a whole lot of men getting into nursing. It was a time when it was just starting to evolve with more men getting into the field,” he said.

Rolfsen has found unique ways to incorporate his passion for sports into his profession. He volunteers as the medical staff for the Covington Catholic High School Football Team and volunteers on the medical team that does semi-annual check-ups for his favorite NFL team, the Cincinnati Bengals. These opportunities allow him to combine his love for sports with his nursing expertise.

Rolfsen explained that once he began his career as an RN, not only did he love his job, but several opportunities for career growth and additional education emerged for him. These opportunities led him to earn both Master's and Doctorate degrees in nursing, as well as his current positions as a professor and full-time ER nurse. Currently, Rolfsen inspires the next generation of nurses as a nursing professor at Thomas More University in Crestview Hills, KY. He also works as a charge nurse at St. Elizabeth Emergency Department in Covington, KY, and -as a staff nurse at Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center Orthopedics.

Rolfsen's career demonstrates that nursing is a diverse profession that allows individuals to help people and incorporate their interests into their work. His experiences also highlight the importance of mentorship and passing on knowledge to the next generation of nurses. He explained that the COVID-19 pandemic has mainly had a positive impact on his new classes of incoming students. He stated that although a few nursing students did drop out of fear initially, mainly the numbers at his university stayed the same. He also expressed that these students saw the important role healthcare workers played during the pandemic and were drawn into the profession because they wanted to help.

“Kids were telling us that they saw what was going on and they wanted to help. During the pandemic, people were praising nurses for the hard work they were doing. Nurses were showing up and working on the front lines and that drew more kids into nursing,” he said.

The team at Journey PX is passionate about partnering with nursing teams to transform care delivery models. Guided by recommendations from a seasoned team of experts, the cutting-edge, cloud-based patient engagement platform offers solutions that save clinicians steps and time, allowing them to lean down clinical workflows and offload non-clinical tasks. Journey PX offers patient engagement solutions that are uniquely designed to allow nurses more dedicated time at the bedside with their patients. The Journey PX solution My Stay, offers patients access to an extensive library of patient education videos, giving patients access to the health education they need to become more informed about their condition and proactive about their care. Nurses can support the patient by auto-assigning them an individualized education plan that is particular to their health needs. The Journey PX Connect solution also offers nurses the capability of securely connecting via video in the patient’s room, which allows them more access to patients, saves them valuable time, and helps keep them safe, reducing exposure.

In a time when nurses face more challenges than ever, with burnout from the COVID-19 pandemic and a workforce shortage, Rolfsen's story offers new perspectives and hope to future nurses. His unconventional path to a successful nursing career breaks down common stereotypes and illustrates the variety of enriching benefits the career offers. As a nurse, educator, and sports enthusiast, Rolfsen's experiences show how the nursing profession can be a pathway to success in many different areas of life.

You can hear more insights from Rolfsen in his PX Space podcast interview with host Linda Robinson.