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From EVS to SICU: Coworkers help employee find his calling

Part of a series about Yale New Haven Hospital employees who have taken non-traditional paths to their current careers.

career In 2010, Orlando Graham, RN, began working in Environmental Services at Smilow Cancer Hospital while taking courses at Southern Connecticut State University and Albertus Magnus College.

He wasn’t quite sure where his studies would lead him, but the people he worked with supported him in choosing a career path.

“Whatever your role in the hospital, you are involved in patient care in some way,” Graham said. “Initially, nursing wasn’t something I considered, but everyone I worked with was so encouraging.”

Graham decided to test the patient-care waters first, by applying to be an Emergency Department technician. After speaking with the ED manager, getting a better understanding of technician requirements, Graham got his certified nursing assistance license. Once hired, he jumped in.

“That was one of the best decisions I made,” he said. “The ED is the front door for most of the patients in the hospital. My experience there gave me a sense of what happens to patients from admission up until discharge.”

While working full time in the ED, he began attending nursing school – also full time. Yale New Haven’s tuition reimbursement program helped Graham cover the cost of earning his associate degree in nursing from Norwalk Community College. After working on a Medicine unit, Graham joined the Saint Raphael Campus Surgical Intensive Care Unit. In December, he earned his bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Bridgeport. 

“Nursing is so fulfilling,” he said. “When I drive home, I know I definitely made an impact on someone’s life – no matter how large or small.” 

Graham is grateful for the hospital’s support, particularly the advice and encouragement he has received throughout his YNHH career.

“Some people want to do more, and they’re not sure how to do it,” he said. “I encourage everyone to listen to the people around them, and be open to information and advice. Having the support of managers and coworkers will give you the confidence to move forward.”