Justin - Digestive Disease Center

Recognized by a Colleague

After being a pediatric nurse for such a long time and transitioning into a “new field,” I must admit – I was a little nervous.  I began my current nursing position in Vanderbilt’s Digestive Disease Center (DDC) in July 2009.  I was eager to learn my new role, and assigned to orient with a nurse by the name of Justin.  His name was not unfamiliar to me; however we had never officially met before.  As soon as we were introduced…it came to me.  I remembered seeing Justin in passing, while we both held nursing positions in separate Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt Outpatient Clinics, located on the 5th floor of Medical Center East.  Then and now, Justin always maintains a humble disposition.  And now that we are working side-by-side, his easy going spirit continues. 


I have learned so much from Justin regarding the care needed for the DDC patients.  He is very intelligent and professional relative to patient care.  Nevertheless, his built-in sense of humor stands out and uplifts my working hours.  It’s a fact that laughter is the best medicine and I can prove it!!  Thank you Justin for adjusting and administering my daily dosages of laughter – “PRN” [as needed]!      

 Mary, RN, ADN
Vanderbilt Digestive Disease Center

Justin's Story

My mother was a breast cancer survivor but then was diagnosed with non-hodgkins lymphoma (NHL).  She spent over 15 years as a Vanderbilt patient from her initial cancer diagnosis through a multitude of treatments before succumbing to NHL in 2000.  My inspiration to become a nurse was my mother and her dedication to working in home health, from which she retired in 1998.  But I chose to work at Vanderbilt because of the excellent care my mother received as a patient.

The biggest obstacle I faced when choosing nursing was my own stereotypes and a healthy dose of gender bias.  I would never have predicted during high school or subsequent education that I would become a nurse since it's an atypical career path for a male.  However, by my early twenties it became quite clear that I was meant to care for people and I've never had any regrets over my career choice.  Thankfully I overcame my biases and now embrace-- and even promote-- diversity in nursing.

My role in the Vanderbilt Digestive Disease Center is to support our hepatologists and provide care to outpatient liver patients via phone consults.  I coordinate the care ordered by our hepatologists and address general health care needs.  I then report my patient information to our multi-disciplinary team to continue the cycle of care.  Liver disease can be the most difficult thing a person ever experiences and this patient population benefits greatly from compassionate communication by a considerate advocate.

The providers and nurses I work with at Vanderbilt all possess an unwavering dedication to their patients that can truly inspire their coworkers.  I take pride in knowing that I'm working at a leading health care institution that is dedicated to providing excellent care to as many people as possible and every single patient.

Nursing is my second career.  In my former life I was a computer programmer and database instructor.  This background provides me with a true appreciation and enthusiasm for Vanderbilt’s electronic medical record and medication programs, which are true blessings.  I can’t imagine doing my job without our system of electronic medical record keeping!

One of my favorite things to do while at work is to take a ten minute walking break in the hospital or on Vanderbilt’s campus.  I can usually find three or four people who are hopelessly lost.  It's the easiest thing in the world to make someone’s day with good directions, or even a personal escort to their destination.

Outside of work, I enjoy gardening and house plants, computer games, and chasing my two year old.  I like walking on greenways and trails with my wife and I have a healthy appreciation of Tennessee's many parks.


Justin, LPN
Digestive Disease Center


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