Spotlight on: Jon Kuppinger, RN, EMT-P, Cardiac Care Unit, Strong Memorial Hospital
By Marianne Benjamin
Thursday, February 27, 2020 10:34 AM
Meet Jon Kuppinger. He is a US Navy veteran, a former California high tech professional, a paramedic, a rock star, and since 2017, has found his true calling as a level 3 bedside nurse on a cardiac care unit at Strong Memorial Hospital.
Kuppinger, a Rochester native, comes from a family of medical professionals. Although it didn’t happen right away, he always knew he would choose nursing as his ultimate career. As a paramedic for 15 years he developed the essential skills and competencies he would need for a career in nursing and learned about the services at area hospitals.
After graduating from Monroe Community College (MCC), he applied to Strong, where began working in cardiac care. He also began pursuit of his bachelor’s degree at the University of Rochester School of Nursing.
Pursuing a Dream
“It was a winding route and took a lot of time to get to my dream goal of being a nurse, but it was a fantastic ride,” said Kuppinger, 50. “I love being a nurse in cardiac care at Strong. It would have been an easy transition to go from ambulance work to emergency department nursing, but I wanted to try something different. I have learned so much on my floor.”
Kuppinger loves the atmosphere of a teaching hospital. “Doctors and residents truly collaborate with nursing and we learn from each other,” he said. “The nurses on my unit are outstanding. Nursing requires skill and technical competency at a high level, but equally important is compassion. We truly care for the whole person and their loved ones. When I care for a patient I think of the person as someone’s mother, brother, or best friend. I love to talk to people about their lives. Sometimes they just want to talk about living and not about illness.”
Facing a Crisis
During nursing school Kuppinger and his wife, Laura, faced a serious health problem in their own family. Laura was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was an intense, frightening time but one in which Jon also learned the true meaning of compassion. Among the many acts of kindness bestowed upon his family was a scholarship arranged by a faculty member. One of his classmates even cut off her hair to make a wig for his wife. Today Laura is two years cancer free and their oldest daughter, Kira, will be starting nursing school in the fall at MCC.
In addition to work and school Kuppinger also precepts students, teaches ACLS, PALS, and paramedic classes, and plays in a local band, The Earthtones. “It’s no secret that nursing can be exhausting,” he smiles, “but it is so rewarding. We not only take care of patients and families, we also take care of each other. We work on the front lines together, and we have constant contact with our patients so we can identify nuances and red flags in their conditions immediately so they can be addressed. I am so grateful for my coworkers. We try to thank each other as a routine part of our days.”
Nursing at Strong Memorial Hospital
Strong Memorial Hospital offers nurses of every level of experience opportunities in bedside care, education, research, management, and consultation. Strong was the first in Rochester to be awarded Magnet status, is nationally recognized as a NICHE hospital—Nurses Improving Care for Health System Elders—and is a recipient of the Beacon Award for Excellence from the American Association of Critical Care Nurses. These are just a few of the accolades achieved by Strong Nursing.
“Nurses at Strong, as well as throughout the entire UR Medicine system, are known for excellence,” said Karen Davis, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, Vice President/Chief Nursing Executive, URMC. “We specialize. We get better every day at what we do. We are compassionate. That’s what we are known for in our community and beyond.”
Davis sees her role as pivotal in ensuring that bedside nurses have all the tools and time they need to devote themselves to patient care. “I am here to advocate and remove barriers to care,” she said. “I want to know what is going on and how I can help. The rest of the nursing leadership team feels the same. We are all working in a partnership.”
Practicing in a Teaching Hospital
There are close to 3,400 nurses at the hospital, making it the largest single group of staff members. “In a teaching hospital like ours, nurses have an added benefit of working with residents, precepting students, and embracing opportunities to learn every day,” said Davis.
“As a bedside nurse I loved taking care of patients. Now I want to make an impact as a leader and make sure our nurses have every opportunity to give amazing care. Nursing isn’t for everyone. There are many rough days. But our nurses consider it a privilege to be there on good days and bad days with our patients. I am so proud of them, and I want to be the best advocate for them as we celebrate the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife.”
About Strong Memorial Hospital
With clinical programs that consistently rank as among the best in the nation according to U.S. News & World Report, Strong Memorial Hospital is upstate New York’s premier teaching and research hospital. The 886-bed facility boasts a regional trauma and burn center, pioneering transplant programs, esteemed programs for conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, and other neuromuscular illnesses, as well as tertiary care pediatric services delivered through the Golisano Children’s Hospital. With a solid reputation for quality, Strong Memorial has earned the National Research Corporation’s “Consumer Choice Award” all 19 years since the award’s inception.