Marine Corps reservist finds calling in nursing

Many doctors and nurses in sanford health they know from a very young age that they want a career in medicine. However, for some, that call comes a little later.

From machinery to medicine

Abdulwahab “Freddy” Frederickson had no plans to go into nursing when he volunteered for the US military.

“I thought I was going to be a mechanical engineer,” Frederickson said. “That’s why I went to the Marine Corps. I wanted to design vehicles or at least work with engines, some fat, you know, that’s what I wanted to do.”

As a Lance Corporal in the Marine Corps Reserve, Frederickson was able to continue his education after high school, while also practicing his trade.

“I was a heavy equipment engineer (in the reserves), but soon realized I didn’t want to get stuck doing tractor stuff in the area,” Frederickson said with a laugh.

“We could also try taking some classes with different military operations and, you know, broaden our knowledge. One of them was combat medicine. Once I took that class, I felt like it was a fresh start. He was interested in the discussions, he was interested in the topic, almost like he was interested in engineering at first, but with a whole new drive, a whole new passion that I never really thought I would have.”

She quickly changed her major to nursing and eventually went to work at Sanford as a nursing assistant while still serving as a reservist.

“Sanford made me feel like I didn’t have to worry about having free time or meeting my needs between nursing school and my military career,” Frederickson said.

Applying everything you have learned

Today, Frederickson is a leader in clinical care in oncology a Sanford Roger Maris Cancer Center in Fargo, North Dakota, helping cancer patients through their chemotherapy or bone marrow transplant deals. He says his military experience serves him well in his everyday role.

“Nursing has all of those aspects. You get a bit of an adrenaline rush, you get some problem solving, you interact with other people and you build relationships,” Frederickson said. “Nursing united everything in a single frame. I receive new things every day. I feel like I’m challenging myself. I feel like I’m getting better at myself every day. And that’s not something I can say about all the jobs I’ve had.”

He also says that he quickly bonds with veteran patients when they find out that he served as well.

“There is a bond that just happens. It definitely creates a connection,” Frederickson said. “Mutual respect is something that I feel is stronger, or maybe it happens faster I guess. They trust you a little bit more because they know you’re one of them in a way.”

That helps a lot during difficult chemotherapy treatments.

“Some days are hard, you know? It’s a grueling treatment and unfortunately not everyone gets to where they want to be,” Frederickson said. “You try to infuse them with a little hope or a little courage, bring a little smile to their day.”

Frederickson plans to continue his education and work to become a nurse practitioner next. Nearly a decade after enlisting and working on heavy machinery, Freddy Frederickson made the full transition to medicine.

“All those tests you take in high school, trying to predict what you’d enjoy based on your abilities—I mean, medicine and nursing were never anywhere near the top 50,” Frederickson said. “It was a nice surprise. And every day I come to work, I’m so grateful that I made the decision to change.”

So are his patients and everyone who works alongside him at Sanford Health.

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Fargo, Nursing and Nursing Support, Sanford Stories, veterans

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