Alex ’10 and Amber Wirt ’10
Alex ’10 and Amber Wirt ’10 did not follow the same path to Radford University, but they ended up together in an unexpected way: married, and as they describe it, caring for and serving others.
As Carilion Clinic Life-Guard RN Transport Specialists, Alex and Amber work 12- and 24-hour rotating shifts, through weekends and holidays, providing critical care in and out of hospitals and in helicopters, while moving patients. They also volunteer with the Floyd County Rescue Squad.
“Through all of my EMS experiences, I was always passionate about the fast-paced, never predictable, always changing world of emergency medicine,” said Alex. “We never know when we will be called to provide medical care, [so] we constantly study, push ourselves and search for the answer to the next question before it’s even been asked.”
Alex’s path to Radford’s School of Nursing (SON) was a natural one. His dad was the Floyd County Emergency Service Coordinator, captain of the Floyd County Rescue Squad and an Advanced Life Support (ALS) provider. His mom was also an ALS provider, as well as a Deputy Sheriff.
“Basically, the Rescue Squad was my babysitter,” said Alex. “Caring for others has always been in my blood.”
After high school, Alex entered New River Community College. Unsure of what to major in, he met with an advisor in Radford's SON. Alex says that one meeting made it clear to him that being a nurse was God’s plan for his life.
He then transferred to Radford, where he and Amber met in a pathophysiology class and began dating soon after. They were both members of the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing. Amber was also a member of Zeta Tau Alpha, and Alex worked part-time, while volunteering with the Floyd County Rescue Squad.
Assistant Professor of Nursing Wendy Downey can attest to the hard work Alex and Amber put in to both be successful in the program and balance their extracurricular activities.
“Acceptance into the … BSN program is highly competitive, and those admitted must contend with the rigor and time commitment needed to be successful,” explained Wendy. “Each week, students typically spend two full days in lecture and multiple days in clinical experiences, leaving little time for activities outside of studying and course work. Those who graduate from our program are highly sought-after professionals who demonstrate excellence in nursing knowledge, skills and in the art of caring for patients and families.”
Alex and Amber completed the nursing program together and were engaged the day after graduation. Amber’s first nursing job post-graduation was at Roanoke Memorial Surgical patient care unit (PCU), after which she moved to the surgical intensive care unit (ICU) where she still works part-time. She says her love for her career comes from her ability to influence and make a difference in people’s lives every day.
Work for this couple includes stabilizing, treating and maintaining care for patients experiencing things like multisystem trauma, stroke, complex medical and ST elevation myocardial infarction, the medical term for a heart attack. As flight nurses, they are able to provide their patients with the best possible critical care via pre-hospital blood product administration, emergency room/ICU level medication administration and performing many advanced procedures including Rapid Sequence Induction (RSI).
In addition to being committed to providing the best care for their patients, Alex and Amber are also committed to enjoying time off with their two young daughters. They say the help of family is what allows them to balance their everchanging schedules with quality time at home.
The couple credits the Radford's SON for teaching them how to work hard and the importance of learning, growing and adapting in the medical field.
“[The] SON allowed me to see inside myself and showed me that I can push myself mentally and academically, farther than I ever thought possible,” explained Alex. “My patients receive the best care possible simply because the Radford SON expected nothing less than the absolute best.”
Their advice to current students is to learn, and keep learning.
“Never be satisfied or comfortable with the quantity of what you have learned. If the day should ever come that you feel like you have learned it all … then get out. Go do something different because there is always more to know,” said Alex. “There should always be a little area of discomfort. Realizing that we are imperfect keeps us grounded, safe and moving our patient care forward.”
August 28, 2019