Cody Forsberg doesn’t have many memories of his grandfather, who died when he was 5.
But they share something in common: a desire to care for others.
And nursing degrees from Wichita State University.
Forsberg wants to continue his grandfather’s legacy.
“Nursing for me is being there for people when they're at their most vulnerable point in life,” Forsberg said. “When they’re sick and unable to care for themselves, (and) their families are unable to care for them. And regardless of the healthcare discipline that you’re in, nurses are at the bedside 100 percent of the time.”
Forsberg, a nurse at Via Christi St. Francis Hospital, graduated from WSU’s doctor of nursing program in December with a specialization in family nurse practitioner.
His grandfather, Frank Hopkins, earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing from WSU in the 1970s after retiring from the Air Force. He was a bedside nurse for the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs and taught nursing classes at a community college in Fayetteville, North Carolina, Forsberg said.
When Forsberg received his bachelor’s degree in nursing in 2010, his grandmother, Carolyn Hopkins, presented him with his grandfather’s nursing pin.
Forsberg recalled that his grandfather died suddenly at age 58 from esophageal cancer.
“Vivid memories I have of him were just of how caring and gentle-hearted he was,” Forsberg said. “He was very compassionate, very loving and full of life. Speaking with other family members, he was always very passionate about volunteering and really just wanting to help people and be there for people in any sort of way that he could.”
Forsberg always knew he wanted to go into the medical field. His grandparents contributed to his goal of becoming a nurse.
His grandmother is a retired nurse who primarily worked in labor and delivery and the nursery.
“She’s also very caring and compassionate and very giving,” Forsberg said. “She never hesitates to lend a helping hand.”
Like his grandparents, Forsberg is passionate about caring for people. He said a rewarding aspect of nursing is caring for people during their worst times, even though it can be sad.
“The times when you’re really there for somebody, whether they live or they die, being, you know, the hand that they can hold in their most trying moments is probably the best thing that I’ve ever experienced as a nurse,” he said.
Forsberg said it’s nice knowing that that he can be recognized for his own accomplishments, but can also honor his grandfather.
“He could still be here today doing everything that he was doing, but it’s nice to know that I’m continuing to do what he did,” Forsberg said. “So since he’s not here, then I’m taking on the role that he was leading in life.”
Forsberg’s first medical position was working as a certified nursing assistant at Via Christi Catholic Care.
After graduating from nursing school, he started working nights in the Burn Immediate Care Unit, which later merged with the Pediatric Immediate Care Unit, at Via Christi St. Francis Hospital. He has worked there for seven years.
Before graduate school, Forsberg got married. While he was working toward his degree, they had a baby. Balancing family, school and work was hard, he said, especially with the work that he does in the Intensive Care Unit.
“I’m definitely more cognizant of some of the horrible accidents that could happen to, you know, my wife or my daughter,” he said. “So it’s definitely made it harder. It hits home a lot easier when I see little kids in the hospital (and) I have to take care of little kids.”’
Being a great nurse takes several strengths, Forsberg said. The ability to cry with families is one of them. Another is being able to “leave work at work,” go home to family, and do it all again the next day, he said.
“It really takes a very strong person to be a nurse, because you see and do so many things that you never thought that you would ever do,” Forsberg said.
Forsberg is now looking to start a new career as a family nurse practitioner. He plans to stay in Wichita.