Our People

Why I Came, Why I Stayed: Vascular Nurse Michael Griffith Enjoys Challenges to Keep His Mind Sharp

Published: Sept. 21, 2023

In “Why I Came, Why I Stayed,” you’ll get to know people who are making a difference every day at Methodist and how they contribute to providing The Meaning of Care. To explore career opportunities at Methodist, visit bestcare.org/jobs.

Michael Griffith, BSN, RN
Registered Nurse
Methodist Hospital Cardiovascular/Pulmonary Progressive Care Unit


Tell us more about yourself.

After graduating from the University of Nebraska at Kearney with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and being on track to go to physical therapy school, I decided to switch things around and focus on nursing. Instead of going back to school for a number of years, I did the accelerated program through Nebraska Methodist College to obtain a bachelor’s degree in nursing. It was a bit of a roundabout way of doing things, but it all worked out because I think this is my true calling.

I graduated in May 2020, and I worked for almost three years on the ninth floor in the cardiac unit at Methodist Hospital before the floor split into separate units. I really enjoyed my clinicals up there and liked the wide variety of patients there with the cardiac focus. I also really liked the other nurses I worked with and gained some good experience.

When Methodist decided to make 4 North a progressive care unit with a cardiac focus, it started looking at the ninth floor and decided to split it. Leadership sent out a survey to those of us working on ninth floor to choose our preferences of where we wanted to work. 4 North was one of my top choices because I thought it’d be really cool to be one of the first nurses on the new unit.

We opened 4 North in December 2022 and started off taking only six patients. I was the first bedside nurse to work on the floor. We’re coming up on a year of being open, and we now have 15 patients because the ICU is on part of the floor. Once some renovations get done within the hospital, we’ll be a fully staffed 24-bed floor.

Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with my wife and 1-year-old daughter on our 5-acre farm south of Harlan, Iowa. We’re working toward having a workable homestead. We have 17 chickens and three ducks at the moment, but we hope to have more for eggs and eventually raise them for meat. We also want to have dairy goats or cows. We currently have plans to get about 1,000 honey bees next summer to have home-raised honey. We also have a large garden plot to grow vegetables and just desire to live off the land.

It’s nice to work in the city but then come back and find the peace out in the country where it’s quiet. You have to be able to separate yourself from work sometimes; otherwise it burns you out. For me, being able to come home to this is a nice escape.

When I’m not working to improve what we have on our property, I like to go for walks and fish. And I hope to get back into hunting.


What brought you to Methodist?

I really enjoyed working at Methodist because as a student, my learning was a priority. I felt like I could ask questions at Methodist, and I felt welcomed. Even as a student, I could recognize that our management was top notch. They really cared for the nurses that worked on each floor.

I also had a sense of family because everyone was working together and caring for one another. If somebody was running behind or had a really sick patient, other nurses stepped in to help without asking any questions. I feel like that’s a really good foundation for a successful hospital. And I wanted to work for a place where people look out for each other and don’t just watch out for themselves. Because I experienced that firsthand as a student, I decided I wanted to be part of the Methodist team.


What’s unique about being a vascular nurse?

Every unit has its own challenges and learning curves, but it’s interesting that vascular patients seem to have so many comorbidities. Since they’re vascular patients, they’re here for a vascular surgery. But you also have to pay attention to them because they might have lung issues, heart issues or even diabetes. As a bedside nurse, you have to put all those pieces together and learn how to communicate with physicians in order to care for the patient and make sure they’re getting the best care possible.

A lot of vascular patients coming out of surgery are at a high risk for bleeding, so you have to be laser-focused on their surgical sites to make sure that everything is stable. If a surgical site fails or a patient moves in just the wrong way and compromises the surgery, then you need to be on top of it to stop the bleeding by applying pressure and communicating with a physician as soon as possible to make sure no further intervention is needed.

Being a bedside nurse for patients after vascular surgery comes with its own set of special challenges. Sometimes you have to coordinate with three or four doctors at a time to help one patient have the best possible outcome.

But if I didn’t have challenges in the job that kept me engaged, I’d get bored. When you get bored, you miss things. And when you miss things, mistakes happen that could be detrimental. Having challenging patients keeps your mind sharp, and as a nurse you need to have that to help other people. At the end of the day, other people’s health and well-being is literally in your hands. I feel like the challenges help you move forward to help increase success. 


What are some of your favorite moments as a nurse?

Things can be riding smoothly, and then all of a sudden something happens and a patient needs to be in the hospital for two, three or four more weeks. So it’s really rewarding to watch them progress toward the day of discharge where they’re sometimes literally walking out of the hospital under their own power with a smile on their face and knowing that they’re going to get their life back.

I think that’s a big piece of what keeps me going in nursing. It can be really stressful and discouraging sometimes as a bedside nurse, but watching patients get better and nearly start their lives over is very refreshing. Seeing them go from as sick as they were to going home is very rewarding.


What is it about Methodist that keeps you coming back?

I feel like Methodist does a really good job of taking care of employees. I have an hour drive from my home to Methodist Hospital. I’ve been doing that drive for two years now, and I still feel like I want to keep doing that. There’s a sense of family at Methodist. I don’t feel like you get that everywhere.

I’ve had coworkers come from other hospitals and talk about how good it is to work at Methodist and feel like they’re appreciated compared to where they came from. That gives me a sense of confidence knowing that I made the right choice, and it makes me want to stay