By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
Like many nurses, Ryan Kasarda of Cicero became interested in the profession as a young person because of knowing a nurse firsthand.
In this case, it was his mother, Karen Kasarda. Both mother and son work for St. Joseph’s Health.
“I was always interested in what she did, although I never understood everything,” the son said. “Now I fully understand it and I’m glad I went down my path. It’s my way to help people and do it for a living.”
Karen Kasarda has worked as a nurse at St. Joseph’s since she began her career in 1991.
A 2019 graduate of Nazareth College’s nursing program, Ryan Kasarda had worked at Wegmans for five years as a stocker. His Wegmans wages and scholarship helped him pursue his nursing education.
He likes the nursing schedule of 12 to 16 hours per day, three-day weeks, he said.
But more than that, he likes that nursing enables him to help people in a concrete, one-on-one way at what may be the most difficult and frightening time of their life.
Like many people, the shift from school to work surprised him.
“There’s the difference on everything they emphasized,” he noted. “Work focuses on the practical. They teach you a concept in school and then you focus on different things in real life, but schooling gives you the understanding of why you do it at work. You have a foundation to go off of and can ask more critical questions of doctors and make suggestions on patient care.”
He began his nursing career in the cardiovascular ICU at St. Joseph’s Health after completing his residency and six months of rotations at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester.
Kasarda enjoys the fast-paced environment of the ICU and completed the education for advanced certification in critical care in February 2022.
“It gives a better understanding in treating your specific patient population and different things to look for advanced treatment,” Kasarda said. “It gives better insight on things to suggest that can fix problems before they happen. This leads to much better patient outcomes.”
Kasarda values his experience in the field, as he believes it further enhances what he has learned in school.
“You can think of patients you had and understand why you learned what you learned,” he added. “It’s more in-depth knowledge of your specialty.”
He also believes that his hands-on experience will help him advance his career as he plans to go back to school to become a nurse anesthetist — at which school he is unsure. Currently, he is waiting for a school to accept him, as the acceptance rates for nurse anesthetist programs are about 10% to 15% because the programs are so competitive.
“There are a lot of people who want to do this and few schools offering nurse anesthetist programs,” Kasarda said. “I love working with anesthesia on my floor.”
Although his mom warned him about how challenging nursing school would be — “it’s no joke when you go into nursing school, with eight hours of studying per day for four years,” — he feels proud of Ryan’s accomplishments.
“He listened, enjoyed it and learned a lot,” Karen Kasarda said. “He’s done very well — better than his mother. He excelled beyond my expectation. He picked the right field. I’m just so proud of him. He has a good grasp of clinical care and is a hard worker. I always knew he’d do well.”
In his downtime, Kasarda enjoys biking, kayaking and fishing, as a self-described “very outdoorsy person.”
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