Proudly Stepping into the Nursing Profession

Nursing student Joseph Medina is excited to become a fully participating member of a distinguished profession that blends compassion and skill

By Eileen Reinhard | May 1, 2024

Graduating senior Joseph Medina SNC’24 will be walking tall at commencement. Medina has grown into his chosen profession as a first-generation student guided by mentors and advisors who he holds in high regard. And he is a Camden native who stayed local because he believes in the city where he was born.

Soft spoken but with a lot to say, Medina said he unquestionably owes any success that he may achieve—now and down the road—to his parents. “I saw my parents go to work every day in scrubs,” Medina said. “They worked so hard but always spoke with compassion about the patients they helped. That made a lasting impact on me.”

Medina’s parents, Zoraida Rivera and Joseph Medina Sr., were certified nursing assistants (CNAs). “They have many years of experience and were positive role models,” Medina said. “I recognize the sacrifices they made for me. They always encouraged me to continue my education and to take the next step further.”

Medina’s education was challenged by the pandemic, yet he was able to graduate from Camden County College with an associate’s degree and move on to Rutgers–Camden, where he weathered lockdown to achieve his career goals. He is currently working as a unit nurse at Cooper Hospital in Camden.

“Nursing is so varied,” Medina said. “I love the field. The priority is to support the patient, and that is seriously rewarding. Also, I get to learn alongside fellow nurses who make work feel like a family. My critical thinking skills grow every day.”

And while there is a rising number of male nurses, the national rate, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, is around 12 percent. At Rutgers–Camden, over 17 percent of nursing students are male. Medina said he sees the increase in male nurses as a good thing, but says it is more relevant to consider that statistic in view of the mission of the whole nursing profession. “For nurses, patient care is primary, and training for nurses focuses on how to provide the best patient outcomes,” Medina said. “All nurses share that focus.”

“Nursing is so varied. I love the field. The priority is to support the patient, and that is seriously rewarding. Also, I get to learn alongside fellow nurses who make work feel like a family. My critical thinking skills grow every day.”
Joseph Medina SNC’24

Medina praised his professors for delivering a quality education. He said his classes were enlightening, and he felt guided and supported throughout his time in the nursing school. He felt particularly mentored by Joseph Cipriano, associate dean of graduate programs and advanced nursing practice.

“Joseph Medina has been a great student,” Cipriano said. “He has a bright future, and I look forward to seeing his progress.”

Joseph Cipriano, associate dean of graduate programs and advanced nursing practice

Joseph Cipriano, associate dean of graduate programs and advanced nursing practice

Last spring, Medina traveled on a service-learning journey to Guatemala with a group of fellow students and faculty, including Cipriano.   

“We were able to work in the Highlands with the Maya and help them improve their community health while we learned about their culture and history,” Medina said. “I was able to do health screenings, and the whole trip was a wonderful experience. It made a real impression on me.”

One of the projects Medina worked on in Guatemala was building cooking stoves designed to cut down on toxic fumes and soot inhalation. He said the benefit of this project to the local population is that conditions from early onset asthma to cases of acute respiratory infections, including pneumonia, can be reduced by improved air quality.

Guatemalan woman making tortillas. Adobe Stock.

Guatemalan woman making tortillas. Adobe Stock.

Going forward, Medina will strengthen his critical care experience at Cooper Hospital; however, he feels that in the not-too-distant future, he may consider returning to Rutgers–Camden as a student in the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program.

Design: Douglas Shelton
Photography: Ron Downes Jr.