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He loved to read.
That’s how Tony Davey, a nurse practitioner at IU Health University Hospital chose his first college major.
“I had no idea about what I wanted to do and I was going to drop out of college. I’d always been a ferocious reader, so when my dad said to choose a major, I chose English,” said Davey. When he couldn’t find a job in his field, he ended up working at a restaurant. “There were five of us with English degrees.”
He’d been out of school for about four years when he decided he’d return for a degree in nursing.
“My sister was in nursing school at the time and she recommended it,” said Davey, who grew up on the northeast side of Indianapolis, the second oldest of six.
He started at IU Health in 1985 in renal ICU and returned to school to obtain a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy. He continued his career in psychiatric nursing and eventually ended up in a management role.
“I never thought I was a good nurse until I got into management. Then I learned what makes a great nurse,” said Davey, who turns 62 in January. “I’m conscientious. I care. I understand pathology and the physical aspects of healing. I understand why I’m doing these things and like to help people so they can continue their stories.”
Working in management also made Davey aware of his interest in bedside care and helped him recognize his passion, he said. He went back to school to become a nurse practitioner and began working with transplant patients.
“Transplant is very gratifying. People come in very sick and several months later you’d never know they were in the hospital. It gives them a new lease on life, new energy. I love the staff, the nurses and surgeons I work with,” said Davey who starts most days at 6:30 making rounds at University and at Riley Hospital for Children.
“I don’t know exactly why but I’ve really enjoyed working with the pediatric program. I just got called to put in labs on a patient who came in as a baby and is now 12,” he said. Davey smiles as he talks about one of his most memorable patients – a man in his 40s, who was not easily calmed.
“He was standing in the hall yelling. He wanted a cigarette two days after multivisceral transplantation. He had such a personality and came so close to death and now 12 years later, he’s doing well and still tracks me down when he wants help.”
More about Davey:
-- By T.J. Banes, Associate Senior Journalist at IU Health. Reach Banes via email at T.J. Banes or on Twitter @tjbanes.