News & People

NWP Physician inspires patient to become an RN

January 16, 2018

Over the past 13 years, Robert Lord has gone from wearing a hardhat and steel-toed shoes, to donning sterile scrubs, a mask, and booties. The former steel-mill worker, now a registered nurse, has been a member of the surgical services team at Kaiser Sunnyside Medical Center (KSMC), in Clackamas, Oregon, since June 2017.

Robert attributes his career transformation to the surgeon who operated on him many years ago at KSMC. David Parsons, MD, colorectal surgeon and director of operations for hospital services, not only cured Robert’s severe ulcerative colitis that had made him sick for a very long time but also unknowingly inspired him to pursue a career in health care.

“Dr. Parsons’ influence and the care I received at Kaiser Sunnyside literally changed my life,” Robert says. “It was like talking to a regular guy. He’s probably saved thousands of lives in his career, yet he treated me as if I was his only patient. I was unsure where my life was heading, but after my experience as a patient, I knew I wanted to be part of the medical field.”

So, at the age of 35, Robert stretched the family budget and dug deep to find the necessary grit, perseverance, and passion to become a registered nurse, and then a scrub nurse (who works in surgery). To achieve this, he worked days in the steel mill and attended school in the evening.

After earning his RN degree, Robert gained valuable experience at a home health agency, an ambulatory surgery center, and a trauma hospital – all while hoping for a chance to join the care team at KPNW.

“I had Kaiser Permanente insurance my whole life and liked the way they treated me. I wanted to be part of this organization,” says Robert.

Akin to a professional baseball player getting called up to the majors, Robert was hired for his dream job at his favorite hospital just a few months ago. And, he considers it a home run that he occasionally gets to work with Dr. Parsons.

On Robert’s first day as a KPNW employee, he shared with Dr. Parsons how the surgeon had influenced his career. “I thought it was great to hear his story and have him back,” says Dr. Parsons. “I’m proud for him, and thrilled he’s part of the team.”

As for Robert, he’s a happy man – thankful for the life-altering experiences that led to his continued good health, a rewarding career at a great place to work, a chance to be part of a care team where everyone respects one another, and the opportunity to support Dr. Parsons and other surgeons in the OR.

“It doesn’t get much better than that,” says Robert.

Dr. David Parsons and Robert Lord
Dr. David Parsons (left) and Robert Lord

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