Murse of the Month
Being a murse takes brains. Being a murse takes guts. Most of all, being a murse takes BALLS! I’m so happy to get the opportunity to recognize you Murse All Stars! There are so many highly influential Men in Nursing that are doing some big things in our profession. There are also a lot of up-and-comers poised for greatness, looking to use their unique talents and gifts to make a huge impact in the world of healthcare.
This month I am so pumped to introduce you all to a great guy doing big things! This really is a treat friends! Clifton (Clif) Joullian, aka "The Nurse Farmer™" has been a Registered Nurse for an astounding 22 YEARS! This guy has seen it all. Although Home Health has been his stomping grounds throughout the years, Clif is an outside the box thinker and has taken his profession to the next level as a Nurse Entrepreneur! His passion is disease prevention, promoting health and helping others achieve optimal health through farming, gardening, and nutrition.
As I do every month, I've asked Clif some questions about his experiences as a nurse. Take advantage of these knowledge bombs he's dropping here on HaveMursey.com! You are MOST DEFINITELY going to walk away with some great words of wisdom.
So without further adieu...
1. What made you decide on choosing nursing as a profession?
I was a twenty-one-year-old high school dropout working fast food and retail at minimum wage. An opportunity to attend LPN school essentially free was presented to me and I jumped at that opportunity. It was sort of a ‘second chance’ for me considering I was a high school dropout. Plus, as I always say, “My Mom said so!” My Mom was against my dropping out of school in the first place. She kept steering me into getting my GED and pursuing a career in nursing.
2. How long have you been a nurse?
Counting my experience as an LPN, twenty-eight years. As a registered nurse, more like twenty-two years.
3. Do you have a specialty of choice? If so, what is it and what do you like most about it?
Home health. I worked mostly private duty in the home as an LPN. Once I became a registered nurse, I knew that I wanted to continue in the home setting, so I transitioned from private duty into home health. Home health is heavily regulated by multiple entities. Despite the regulations, there is still a degree of autonomy and independence. Most of my home health career has been case management. I left the field as a case manager last August and transitioned into the office as an intake nurse.
I am also The Nurse Farmer. I advocate and teach farming and gardening as a means of health promotion and disease prevention from a holistic perspective. Gardening can promote healthy bodies not only through physical activity and exercise, but also through increased vegetable consumption. There is evidence that people who grow their own produce tend to eat more produce. Gardening can promote mental health by increasing socialization and decreasing feelings of loneliness. Gardening can promote spiritual health by helping us connect with others and even feel closer to God. Farming and gardening are a means of health promotion and disease prevention not only through the foods we grow, but also how we grow those foods. For example, organic and sustainable practices benefit individual, community, and even environmental health by eliminating the use of chemical herbicides and pesticides.
4. Do you have any unique experiences being a male nurse?
I think being referred to as a male nurse is unique. I am not a ‘male nurse’. I am a registered nurse who happens to be a male. Having a penis is completely incidental and has nothing to do with nursing! LOL! I just kind of laugh it off because there are individuals that I have encountered who do not get that at all. I remember chatting with a guy many years ago who could not move past me being a ‘male nurse’. I tried explaining it to him numerous times and it just kept going over his head. He insisted on referring to me as a ‘male nurse’. I finally made a joke about it with my colleagues, “I am Clifton Joullian M.N., not Clifton Joullian R.N. I went to the Bishop State Community College School of Male Nursing where I obtained an Associate of Science Degree in Male Nursing!”
5. How do you see nursing evolving as a profession?
I am seeing more and more nurses like myself, thinking outside the box and aspiring to practice nursing in creative ways without having to work for a healthcare facility. I encourage everyone to learn more about professional nursing organizations such as the National Nurses in Business Association and the American Holistic Nurses Association. It is amazing to see so many nurses starting their own businesses while functioning within the scope of their license. I used to ask myself, literally, “What could I do independently as a registered nurse? If I could throw up a sign in my driveway in front of my house advertising myself as a registered nurse, what could I do within the scope of my license and receive financial compensation?” Nursing broadly defined is the promotion of health and prevention of disease. Nurses advocate and teach. Our license allows us to advocate and teach. In fact, I could argue, our license mandates us to advocate and teach. It is what we do. I do not want to be defined as a nurse by my technical skills such as drawing labs or performing trach care. Our license enables us to do so much more without having a physician or employer directing us like puppets! We need to capitalize on that, individually and collectively.
6. Are there any particular causes in nursing you that you are passionate about? For example-Nurse Staffing Ratios, Full Autonomy For Nurse Practitioners, etc.
I would like to see more nurses getting involved with our professional organizations. Standing together collectively is a key to promoting our causes whether it is staffing ratios or expanding the role of the registered nurse. The key is to roll up your sleeves and join. Even if you do not ‘do anything’ so to speak right away, just join and start learning more about what our professional organizations do.
7. What are some of your hobbies and interests?
Farming and gardening. I tend to use the words interchangeably. I have a small back-yard farm complete with hens. I love growing vegetables and even flowers from seed. My sons are teenagers now. They have been raised helping with the back-yard farm since they were small boys. Being teenagers, they perceive it as work. However, when we are at the dinner table eating one of their favorite dishes, such as insalata caprese, using our home-grown heirloom tomatoes and Thai Basil, I remind them that they played a role in growing the fresh produce. While it is work and a slow process, the result is very rewarding.
8. What is one of your proudest accomplishments?
On a personal level, becoming a father and raising my sons with my spouse, Barry. We adopted them when they were small boys. They have come such a long way and I am very proud of them. They will both have graduated from high school by next summer. I have had several teachers tell me through the years, “I wish all of my students were as well behaved and well-mannered as your sons.” When I feel doubtful about my parenting skills, I remind myself of those conversations and realize that I am doing something right. I could not do it alone without Barry.
9. Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years?
After our sons have finished high school, we are considering moving back to our home in Alabama next summer. We have a home with acreage and would like to start a small, organic family farm in Alabama. I think we could accomplish that in five years. I envision having classes and workshops on site where I can teach people about the health benefits of farming and gardening. I would also like to have cooking demonstrations. Perhaps even classes on organic practices that can be implemented at home. We have so many ideas for our Alabama farm.
10. What piece of advice would you give to all the male nurses out there reading this?
I tell all nurses, If you do not have your BSN, get it! Having a BSN will open so many doors for you! However, the question is specific to male nurses. So, I guess my best advice to all the male nurses reading this is when a patient refuses you as a male nurse, do not take it personally. When I was young, it really hurt my feelings. I have even had a small handful of male patients refuse me because I am a man. Patients have their prejudices and their reasons for ‘not wanting a male nurse’. At the end of the day, I remind myself, it is not about me. It is about them. For everyone that refuses me, there are dozens who request me by name and want me to come back! Just do not take it personally. I always respond, “If that is your preference, I will make note of that and let my manager know”.