BRISTOL – Matthew Hunt started working in the Bristol Hospital kitchen at 16 years old. Now, at age 38, he still works at the hospital, but with a master of science in nursing, he’s employed as an advanced practice nurse (APRN).
Hunt, a Newington resident, worked his way up the ranks with a lot of hard work, determination and plenty of support from his colleagues and family.
“I started in the kitchen cleaning up pots and pans,” Hunt said, having gone directly into the workforce from high school.
In his mid-20s, Hunt decided he wanted to go back to school. His co-workers often saw him studying on his breaks, and many of them suggested he take up a career in nursing.
“It feels like it couldn’t have happened a better way,” Hunt said.
Bristol Health, he said, was more than supportive of his desire to go back to school. The organization offered its tuition reimbursement program, in addition to support from everyone on the hospital team.
Hunt earned an associate of science in nursing in May 2012. In 2018, he earned a bachelor of science in nursing. This past Thursday was his last day as a registered nurse, having earned his master of science, making him an APRN.
As he worked his way through different positions in the hospital, Hunt said he left a vacancy in each area he was leaving, but his colleagues never offered him anything but support.
“They were all very supportive,” he said. “Nobody ever held me back or got in my way. I don’t know if it would have been like that at a bigger hospital.”
The hospital was also very accommodating with Hunt’s schedule, as he continued working throughout his time in nursing school. If he needed to work weekends to allow for more days off during the week, he got it. If he needed to come in later because he was busy with school, supervisors understood.
“Nobody ever took me into their office and made me feel bad about it,” Hunt said.
Hunt said he also received a ton of support from his wife, who took on a lot of the parental duties for the couple’s two children while he worked and continued his education. The past several years, he said, were especially grueling with clinicals.
“It has not been easy,” Hunt said. “My wife has been the most supportive person you can imagine.”
Hunt encouraged anyone unsure about what career path to take to look into nursing, which he said is a great field.
“I think nursing is a wonderful career,” Hunt said. “There are a number of different jobs in nursing. It’s not just hospital-based. You have to go into it knowing it’s going to be a huge stress on everyone in your life. Not just you. It’s tough. The number one thing I would say to people is to not be afraid to ask for help and support from your family or your partner.”
The Newington resident also acknowledged the big role Bristol Health played in his success story. He was always able to reach out for advice or help from anyone in the organization, including those in high-ranking positions. At a bigger hospital, Hunt said, it’s unlikely he would have had access to the same tutelage and knowledge.
“If I was at a different place, I don’t know if I would be able to do it,” he said. “Sure, I worked hard throughout all of it, but I didn’t do it alone. Bristol Health supported me through it and my family supported me.”
Justin Muszynski can be reached at 860-973-1809 or email@example.com.