After graduation in May, Brendan Kreag is eager to begin his nursing career in the cardiothoracic intensive care unit at Duke University Hospital. During his four years of nursing school, Kreag has fully lived the Gamecock nursing experience by immersing himself in educational and leadership opportunities. "Starting my freshman year, I've looked for ways to be involved in nursing outside the classroom to advance my practice and meet new people," says Kreag. Each experience has deepened his passion for nursing and expanded his toolkit of skills.
As a freshman in a new environment, Kreag sought out opportunities to connect with fellow nurses. He became involved in the Dean's Student Advisory Council and Men in Nursing. The mentorship he received from upper division male students provided a blueprint of a successful nursing student in which Kreag has followed.
"When I first began nursing school as a male, I felt a little isolated. The Men in Nursing organization introduced me to an incredible group of guys who helped guide me through lower division nursing."
When Kreag became an Upper Division student his junior year, he was now the upperclassman that younger students looked up to. He began a leadership role within Men in Nursing and concentrated on building the organization's mentorship program. Kreag shares, "The organization did so much for me, and I wanted to help us go even further in mentorship. We have built a robust program that benefits the mentor and mentee through strategic planning and member feedback. I'm proud of the work I'll leave behind when I graduate."
During a study abroad trip to Europe, Kreag began to find interest in applied nursing and research. The study abroad trip focused on analyzing different countries' healthcare systems and how they compare to the US healthcare system. "It was a valuable experience to sit in on healthcare meetings in different countries and learn about the role of the nurse around the world," says Kreag. His interest in applied nursing turned into action after Associate Dean for Faculty Robin Dail and a Ph.D. student presented their research during a nursing class.
"It was inspiring to see how their research was making a life-saving impact on patients at the bedside, and I wanted to be a part of that."
He began working with Dr. Dail on her research grant centered on decreasing morbidity and mortality in premature infants through thermal physiology and management studies. "I've gained an understanding for evidence-based research and the vital impact nurses can have on research. During my senior year, I've worked on a start to finish research development, and I had the opportunity to present at UofSC Research Day and the College of Nursing Research Day," shares Kreag.
Kreag will be graduating in a few short weeks in the middle of a global pandemic. His senior year may have been nontraditional without a true football season, limited events on campus, and a high flex learning model, but Kreag has jumped at the chance to grow during the pandemic. He volunteered this spring with vaccinations at Gamecock Park and the student health center on campus. He says, "I worked the first day the Gamecock Park vaccine site opened- it was a historic moment to see the connection between nurses and patients and to watch people find hope with the vaccine."