Meet Graham Niswander

The Best Way to Connect with Patients

Grad student chooses nursing program after ER stint

Graham Niswander took a few career turns before landing in Elmhurst College’s master’s entry in nursing practice program. He knows he’s in the right place.

“I like that we’re a small close-knit group, just 22 of us,” he said. “With two or three professors in each simulation lab, there’s plenty of expertise and opportunity to ask questions.”

After graduating from Illinois State University with a biology degree in 2014, Niswander worked first as a line cook at a steakhouse in Naperville and then as a chemist in a manufacturing plant.

Acknowledging that his primary interest was always health care, he volunteered in the emergency room at Rush-Copley Medical Center in Aurora to see if nursing would be a smart career fit.

“You’re on your feet for 11 hours and at the end of the day you’re exhausted,” he said. “But you realize the work you put in that day was worth it.” Nursing, he concluded, was the best way for him to make an impact and connect with patients.

Niswander homed in on the Elmhurst master’s program for its small class size and opportunity to work closely with faculty. “It’s hands-on,” he said, referring to the lab classes and his one-day a week field placement at Elmhurst Memorial Hospital.

He’s only one of two men in his master’s program class, but among a peer group moving into nursing in greater numbers. The percentage of male nurses rose to about 10 percent in 2011 from less than 3 percent in 1970, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

In his free time, Niswander still spends time in the kitchen for its creativity and stress relief, experimenting with pan-Asian recipes and barbecue: “I cook everything I can.”

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