From cafeteria worker to heart surgery nurse

July 09, 2019 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health
Categories: Healthy Driven Hearts

Jaz Kaushal’s life after graduating from high school was a bit directionless. He simply didn’t know what he wanted to do with his time and talents and, therefore, he didn’t do much. And then, in 2007, his mom suffered a stroke, which left her with a series of medical difficulties that continue to this day. Despite these setbacks, something really good came out of it.

Kaushal got to experience firsthand how powerful and transformative medical work can be. He got to see how the doctors, nurses and other medical staff were able to comfort him, his mom, and their family after tragedy struck. And he got to see how they were able to take action, and administer medical care that made his mom healthier and happier despite the circumstances of the stroke.

His life was forever changed.

Wanting desperately to break into the medical field, Kaushal took the only job he could get at Edward Hospital — as a cafeteria employee. He quickly worked his way up to become a hospital transporter, where he got the chance to work directly with patients.

It was as a transporter that another event reinforced his newfound goal of working in the medical field. Kaushal was among the first to respond to a Code Blue (cardiac arrest). He performed CPR until a team of doctors and nurses came to aid and, ultimately, save the patient.

After experiencing the thrill of helping to save a patient’s life, Kaushal went home and submitted his application to nursing school that night.

To this day, Kaushal serves as his mom’s main caretaker. He brings her to Edward Hospital for all her medical needs. Kaushal says he would trust his colleagues with his own life. He points to his fellow employees’ dedication to patients and medical professionalism as guideposts for his own attitude toward work.

Kaushal is especially proud to work in an operating room with Bryan Foy, M.D., who is a mentor to him. He says Dr. Foy inspires the Edward-Elmhurst Health team by demanding excellence from every single one of them.

So what does he do to make his work so personal? Kaushal routinely comes in early to prepare for the day, and spends some of his free time at home letting his mind ruminate on how he and his team can best handle their most difficult cases.

He acknowledges the difficulties of being a patient facing a serious medical issue, saying: “It’s scary to put your trust in someone you just met a few minutes ago.” So he tries to approach every patient as compassionately as he would a member of his own family.

For Kaushal, now 10 years into his career, working at Edward-Elmhurst Health is just as rewarding as it was on day one. He says work affords him the opportunity to help patients on the worst day of their lives, and that this is one of the best feelings you can experience in life. It’s a feeling that makes him want to come back and do it every day.

For Kaushal, this is personal. Learn more about what makes our heart program so special.

Find out your risk for heart disease. Take a free, 5-minute test that could save your life.

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