Published on May 19, 2020 by Sara Roman  

When Bryan Wimbish ’11 was completing his Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Samford’s Ida Moffett School of Nursing, he sought the Lord’s guidance on where he should use his skills to serve. He recalls the Lord asking him, "Where is the darkest place that you can shine?"

Today, that same challenge is why Wimbish, an emergency nurse practitioner, decided to transfer to Metropolitan Hospital’s emergency department in New York City to serve during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“God's direction back in 2011 is very similar to how I felt when I decided to come to New York City,” said Wimbish. “God provided an open door for me to come here and I felt the need to walk through it. I am a healthy, young male who has the skills to help a hurting people. My mission field is my practice. Coming to New York was an opportunity to serve and shine God’s light during this city’s time of need.”

Wimbish chose a job in an emergency department because he knew he could offer compassionate care and a smile to those who may enter the department hurting and scared. Before going to New York, he was serving as a nurse practitioner in the emergency departments of Brookwood Baptist Health and Grandview Medical Center.

Although his first week of work in New York was after the initial surge of COVID-19 patients, Wimbish says that the emergency department team still treated every patient who entered the doors as though they were positive for COVID-19 and that, after testing, 90% of them were.

Empty Times SquareFor six weeks, Wimbish lived in a hotel and worked six to seven 12-hour shifts. From the rows of intubated patients and the morgue trucks that were brought in to help with the burden of several of the hospitals, to the people of New York who hung out of their windows to blow fog horns, clang pots together and cheer before and after hospital shifts, Wimbish calls the experience both tragic and inspiring.

“COVID-19, it is most definitely a deadly virus with extraordinary pathology. My patients are exhibiting a myriad of signs and symptoms, and sometimes, no symptoms at all,” says Wimbish. “When I was growing up my parents taught me to walk in their shoes. Regardless of the virus or disease, I know I would want a smiling, compassionate provider who cared for more than the disease process they are treating. Even during this difficult time, I have done my best to continue to provide this kind of care to all of my patients.”

Wimbish says that Samford, as a whole, and especially Ida Moffett School of Nursing taught him the compassion and skills it takes to be a good nurse, but also to use his faith and God-given skills to go beyond the academic teaching as a health care provider. “I was challenged to step up to the plate to provide holistic, compassionate care when faced with emergent situations or acutely or terminally ill patients,” said Wimbish.

To the recent graduates who are entering the field of nursing amid this pandemic, Wimbish encourages them to truly have the courage to care. “As you work at the bedside as an RN or become an advanced practice provider, always remember the person who is behind the illness you are treating. God is using you and your skills to care for his people, your friends and neighbors, so do not become complacent, work hard. You may not see the rewards and success of your practice on each shift, but I promise, you are making an impact on your patients and their families.”

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.