After taking up a housekeeping job at NYU's Tisch Hospital, Frank Baez was inspired to become a nurse himself. More than a decade of hard work later, he has made it.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on June 3, 2022
Frank Baez migrated to the United States from the Dominican Republic with his two brothers in 2004. He was only 15 years old at the time. Two years later, at 17, he got a job as a weekend housekeeper at NYU Langone's Tisch Hospital to help with his mother's costs of taking care of the family. Soon, he realized he enjoyed the fast-paced environment and interacting with all the people around him. Curious about nursing, Baez would ask the nurses questions about patient care and what it takes to become a nurse, CNN reports. He worked his way up the ranks, and today, he is finally a graduated nurse.
Nurse Graduates from NYU After Years Working As a Janitor— The North Star (@TheNorthStar) May 25, 2019
"A man who worked as a janitor at New York University graduated with a nursing degree from the university on Monday, May 20." @_mariaeperez https://t.co/JG9NsGwmjP pic.twitter.com/QvwZZlmMro
A few years after he first began his housekeeping job at Tisch Hospital, he got a patient transport job taking people to tests and other procedures. Nataly Pasklinsky, who is presently the director of simulation learning at the NYU nursing school, took note of his inquisitiveness. She was a registered nurse at the hospital at the time and saw Baez daily. She said, "He was always compassionate to patients and families. He would ask the nurses questions about patient care and what it takes to become a nurse. My colleagues and I encouraged him to follow his dream."
In the meantime, Baez received his associate degree and then went to Hunter College to get his bachelor's degree in Spanish literature with a minor in biological sciences. Notably, he was the first member of his family to graduate college. As someone who could barely speak a word of English when he arrived in the United States, he was acutely aware of how important it is to be able to care for people in their own language. "I was hoping that I would be able to care for patients in Spanish," he said in an interview with CNN. "I wanted to work with under-served populations."
Following college, Baez took up a job as a unit clerk at NYU Langone Orthopedic Hospital and got to work closely with the nurses there. He shared, "I felt inspired by them to become a nurse, so I told them 'I want to be a nurse like you guys.' I was inspired by their work and everything they do for their patients." During his first semester, he worked full-time. This led to some long, frantic days. According to the recent grad, his morning classes would run until about 2 p.m., after which he would change clothes and grab a quick bite to eat before his shift started at 3 p.m. Once he was done with work, he would be up late doing his homework and getting ready for the next day.
Swear this dude looked so familiar in this FIGS ad and then it dawned on me that he was the man posted all over social media who was a janitor at NYU Langone and became a nurse himself. 👏🏽 pic.twitter.com/cpmY3jM4B3— lomeowmeow (@lomeowmeow) December 23, 2019
However, Baez explained that watching the nurses work made the things he was learning "come to life." He said, "It's amazing because you are like 'Oh my God, I just learned this, and look at them, they're doing it.'" Now that he has graduated he is getting ready for his licensing boards and hopes to get a nursing job at NYU. "Frank will become an excellent nurse," Pasklinsky affirmed. "Because his heart is in it."