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Everyday Heroes 2018: Ryan Boss

“You have to be able to build that connection”

Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital night nurse Ryan Boss
Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital night nurse Ryan Boss

After much encouragement from his own hero, Ryan Boss decided to go into nursing and became known for his ability to connect with patients on a personal level.

Boss, 33, has been working as a nurse in Advocate Good Shepherd’s oncology unit for the past three years. Before that, he was a tech and before going back to school, he worked as a counselor. He is one of 2018’s Everyday Heroes because of the way he interacts with patients – which is one of the best things about the job, Boss said.

“You have to be able to build that connection,” Boss said. “A lot of nurses are task-oriented – which is important, too – but to take a minute or two to sit down and talk to the patient, you get a better feel [for the situation].”

Dawn Moeller, Advocate’s Emergency Department manager, said she nominated Boss because of his ability to advocate for patients.

“It’s those little things,” Moeller said. “That human touch, kindness and compassion make a difference for the patient and the family.”

An example of the way Boss works is what he called “a nursing moment you remember.”

A little more than a year ago, Boss had a patient who was dying of cancer. His prognosis was poor and his family wanted the hospital to allow him to go to a hospice, where he could be comfortable before the end.

A doctor wanted him to continue treatment, but Boss stepped in and helped facilitate the discussion. The patient went home and died later that day.

“He had declined really fast,” Boss said. “I was advocating to the physician for what they wanted because I had been talking to them all night and I knew they didn’t want more chemo. The prognosis wasn’t good. He wouldn’t have survived.”

Boss is the second person in his family to go to college, which is a feat achieved with a push from Boss’ uncle, Richard Cutler, of Brisbane, California, who was the first in the family to get a degree, he said.

“With my nephews, I have always been very pro-college,” Cutler said. “Ryan started off with a degree in food sciences, but … I thought nursing was a lot better in terms of opportunities. Prior to going to college for nursing, he worked at [with youth] and he is very good at dealing with people. He has very good soft skills.”

Cutler said he continues to encourage his nephew to go to graduate school in the future.

“I have been the one in the family that has been the voice in that,” he said. “Having gone through the experience, I could talk him through it.”

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