Blake Reddick ’11 reflects on his academic journey from Olivet to Johns Hopkins.
In the Faces of Olivet series, we share snapshots of the personal experiences and careers of some of our extraordinary students, faculty, staff and alumni. This article focuses on Blake Reddick ’11, and his career transition from an actor to a nurse practitioner with a fellowship at Johns Hopkins University.
At Olivet, Blake fully immersed himself in the arts. He performed in multiple plays and musicals; sang with Orpheus and Concert Singers; played in the concert band, jazz band and orchestra; and traveled with the Olivetians ministry team for two years. Although he initially studied biology at Olivet, Blake’s interest in the arts prompted him to switch his major to music. After graduation, he moved to Chicago to pursue a career in theatre.
However, Blake’s priorities changed in 2012 when he was diagnosed with colon cancer. “I received great care from nurses and began to see the healthcare profession through a new lens,” Blake reflects. “I had a unique experience that gave me insight that I could and should give back.” He underwent surgery and spent a month in the hospital to recover. The forced downtime gave him plenty of space to think critically about his career trajectory. “My passion switched gears and theatre fizzled out as a priority. Nursing stuck in my brain after that.”
In 2015, Blake enrolled in the Accelerated Bachelors of Nursing (BSN) program through Olivet’s School of Graduate and Continuing Studies. After receiving his degree, he worked at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn as a nurse in the cardio-surgical intensive care unit for two years. While he was still working in theatre, his BSN allowed him to easily pick-up shifts and still perform. However, as he continued to learn more about the healthcare field, Blake realized that he wanted to dive deeper into advanced practice nursing.
Although nurse practitioners may practice with a master’s degree, doctoral degrees in nursing are becoming more common as the scope of nursing practice continues to expand. Recognizing this shift in the healthcare landscape, Blake looked for a doctorate of nursing (DNP) program. Purdue University proved to be a great fit. His studies in the adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner track at Purdue were funded through his role as a research assistant. The research opportunity even afforded the chance for Blake to publish several articles during his time as a student alongside the director of the PhD program at the Purdue School of Nursing.
This summer, he will take a new step in his journey as a nurse at Johns Hopkins University as a Nurse Practitioner Gastroenterology and Hepatology fellow. Before he even enrolled at Purdue, Blake had emailed the director of the fellowship and explained his intent to pursue a DNP and his personal interest in gastrointestinal (GI) issues.
“I always knew this is what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to work with patients who are suffering from inflammatory bowel disease and colon cancer.” With a connection at Johns Hopkins already established, Blake focused his education at Purdue along those lines. Most of the projects he completed were geared toward problems with the GI tract. When it was time to officially apply for the prestigious fellowship – which only accepts one DNP candidate per year – he was prepared.
The 12-month fellowship pushes the boundaries of what a nurse practitioner does as a healthcare provider. The program mirrors that of the first year of a medical fellow. However, as a nurse, Blake prefers to focus on health promotion and disease prevention, particularly related to GI issues, rather than on treating diseases. One goal of the program is to prepare fellows to perform endoscopic procedures.
“There’s going to be a significant rise in population who are at risk for colon cancer due to their age,” Blake says. “And there aren’t currently enough providers to do those routine colonoscopies. Colon cancer is highly treatable through screening and the removal of polyps. After completing this fellowship, I’ll be able to help in that process.”
Blake’s forward-thinking perspective has helped him flourish in his healthcare career. However, his personal interest in the industry has given him a humble attitude toward what he does. “I’m very proud to be labeled and categorized as a nurse,” Blake says. “I don’t view what I do as special – it’s just part of the profession.”
For more information on Olivet’s School of Nursing, and other areas of study, contact the Office of Admissions at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-648-1463.