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Going the Extra Mile

Clinicals can oftentimes be the most memorable time in a nursing students’ journey. They get the opportunity to interact with patients, nurses, and doctors. They get to see some of the most joyous and sometimes the most heartbreaking moments in patients lives. Senior BSN student, Christopher Linzie Hough, knows firsthand how those moments can play a role in the care of patients.

“I had a patient once who had an elective double mastectomy,” said Hough. “She was upset and crying so I took the opportunity to talk with her about her decision. I shared that because of her decision she would be able to spend more time with her grandchildren. I also explained to her that these scars from the procedure do not define beauty and her decision was an admirable one.”

When the patient’s surgeon walked in the roomed and witnessed the interaction, he was stunned.

“He explained that he had never seen someone talk to a patient so therapeutically,” says Hough. “That really cemented my role as a future nurse.”

This was only one example of the many times Hough went above and beyond for a patient.

Hough’s journey into nursing school was non-traditional. He served 14 years as an active-duty Navy Hospital Corpsman. Hough also served in Afghanistan as the Operations Chief for the NATO Role 3 Multinational Medical Unit and was the medivac and triage coordinator and supervisor.

“I chose to become a nurse after my tour in Afghanistan,” said Hough. “I wanted to do more for my patients but was limited in scope and knew I wanted to provide more than just combat medicine.  I love patient care and seeing patient outcomes based on the care I provided.”

Hough was later selected for the Medical Enlisted Commissioning Program. This program serves as a pathway to a commission in the Navy Nurse Corps.

Hough believes that if he can achieve his dreams of becoming a nurse, anyone can. Hough’s journey to become a Vol nurse has inspired his peers and instructors.

“Linzie goes above and beyond all expectations,” said Gail Griffith, clinical instructor at the college. “He is always available to provide extra support to patients, families, peers, and staff.”

Griffith recalls, “One day, while we were on the med surg unit, staff came searching for him by name to assist them because they knew he would help. He helped security transport patients to the morgue, he helped maintenance fix computers, he helped dietary pass meal trays, he helped environmental services clean a room, he followed a patient to the OR for a biopsy and assisted the OR staff.”

With four kids at home, the duties of being a husband, and nursing school, Hough often entered the hospital exhausted. He knew that he had to push that aside for his patients though. As soon as he stepped foot in the hospital doors it was time for him to give each of his patients the very best care.

“Nursing has many aspects,” said Griffith. “It is not just about providing a nursing skill for a patient. It is about being part of a team and going the extra mile. It’s about doing the right thing even when no one is looking, it’s about persevering through difficult times. I have seen all these aspects shine through Linzie. He encompasses the Volunteer spirit.”

Hough will cross the stage and receive his degree in May. Following graduation, he will commission as a Naval Nurse Corps Officer and move to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland where he will work as a Navy Nurse.

CONTACT: Kara Clark Cardwell (kmclark2@utk.edu, 865-974-9498)