Editor-in-Chief; Senior Vice President and Chief Nurse Officer, Meridian Health System, Neptune, N.J.
From my first decision to pursue a career in nursing to 30 years later, I knew my options were endless.
One moment. That's all it takes to change the entire course of your future. In my case, it was receiving the results of an MRI.
Less than 2 years ago, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor—a glioblastoma multiforme, stage IV—to be exact. I never imagined that after spending 30 years as a healthcare professional, I'd become the patient. I'd have to rely on my peers to guide me through this inevitable path that was now my future. I knew my prognosis wasn't optimal, but abandoning my life's work wasn't an option. I still had so much to accomplish, both personally and professionally.
I went to work every day because I could. I made memories with my children, wife, and colleagues. As a leader, I had difficulty giving up control, but my team had my back—and became my shoulder to lean on. My family and colleagues were my safeguard as I navigated my disease.
Accepting and coping with my diagnosis led me to reflect on what brought me to where I am today. I strove to achieve… I aimed to be the best person I could, while never settling for anything less. I persisted… I pushed the boundaries of professional nursing to new levels, watching my beloved profession grow and exceed my expectations. I committed myself to mentoring those around me to pursue higher education, take on challenges, and master new skills to deliver exceptional patient and family care. From my first decision to pursue a career in nursing to 30 years later, I knew my options were endless. I saw opportunity and a future of infinite possibilities. Perseverance, dedication, a clear vision, and invaluable mentors kept me on my life's path.
Through the support of my family, friends, and colleagues I set forth on the ultimate journey, one full of discovery. I knew I had to prepare those around me to carry out the vision we created together, so work became my outlet, a place of comfort. My only regret is that my journey is ending while I have so much more to do with all of those whom I deeply care for and respect. What will my legacy be? What will I be remembered for? These are such difficult questions, especially in the face of terminal illness. We all leave an imprint of ourselves when we depart from this world. We need to always dream of and work toward the imprint we leave behind.
From the Publisher
Rich's courageous and inspiring journey ended on March 25. He served as Editor-in-Chief of Nursing Management for nearly a decade. During his highly accomplished 30-year nursing career, Rich developed a vision to create something better for patients, nurses, and colleagues. His love of compassionate care and life-long learning is his legacy. In February, Meridian Health's Board of Trustees dedicated The Richard Hader Institute for Clinical Integration in honor of Rich's passionate efforts for more seamless, collaborative patient-centered care. To support the Institute or request more information, contact:
Meridian Health Foundation, The Richard Hader Institute for Clinical Integration, 1345 Campus Parkway, Neptune, NJ 07753.