Horry County, S.C. (WPDE) — There are more than four million nurses working in American hospitals right now, but that's not enough. The U.S. is facing a nursing shortage.
ABC 15's Crystal Costa met a recent HGTC graduate who's already getting to work to help fill the need.
Joey Royea, 24, has always been interested in STEM.
He studied Biology in college for four years, before transferring to Horry Georgetown Technical College where he realized his true love. "I feel like I have an innate passion for taking care of people and taking care of people when they are most vulnerable," Royea said.
Royea spent five semesters in the nursing program at HGTC, learning how to treat patients through text books, hands-on experience and technology.
"It's more of an art, they say nursing is an art. I feel like it is one of those things where you connect with humans and you connect with lives and you get to mix that with science and medicine. I think that's really exciting," said Royea.
A CPR simulator is one of the many tools HGTC uses to train future health care professionals.
Royea also learned from the best while getting experience drawing blood as a Phlebotomist. "I found some nurses that I found were very compassionate and very good at what they did and I looked up to them."
Those mentors fostered his love for nursing and made him realize the value of the relationships between nurses and their patients. "We walk with our patients from the time they come in through their entire stay and their discharge. During that process, we have time to connect with the patient, establish trust, do some assessments and figure out what's wrong," Royea said.
Now Royea is a college graduate and he's wasting no time jumping into the real world. "I'm anxious to start and get my hands in there and start a very fulfilling career," he said.
He already has a job at Grand Strand Medical Center as a nurse on the Progressive Care Unit.
He plans to use his STEM education to make a difference. Royea said, "What drives me is when your patient tells you thank you so much for being there for me, for listening, for taking care of me, thanks for being attentive. Those are things that matter."