“I have a hole in my chest,” he smiled, “Look press here.” Yup, that was weird. He has this thing called pectus excavatum which results in an indented sternum (the center of your chest bone). It’s not painful nor is it really relevant to the article.
Omeid Heidari is a graduating Nursing Science major at UCI who just received a full time position at Children Hospital of Orange County’s (CHOC) intensive care unit (ICU). This position requires the best of nurses to work in one of the more stressful environments in the hospital. Not only is it tough for a new grad nurse to attain a position at a hospital, it is rare to land a position in a pediatrics intensive care unit. The position requires the nurse to be poised and confident in his/her skill to work one of the most stressful units. Omeid definitely has earned it.
He has been actively involved in many of the school’s clubs and student government and somehow finds ways to stay sane and grounded throughout the stress and frustrations that come day to day. Currently, he’s leading his own research in junction with the Nursing and Public Health Departments at UCI. He’s working with a nurse practitioner run clinic in Santa Ana to obtain data on health education being administered at the elementary and middle school level. Despite being on a low budget, he is working to interview parents and school faculty in hopes of finding a more accessible and relative way to spread the awareness of reproductive and developmental health education. He chose to survey the ZIP code in Santa Ana with the highest rate of sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancies.
“My goal is to educate these teens in sexual awareness and help change the way they are receiving the information. I’m looking to change the class structure to make it more appealing to the students, so they can grasp the concepts better.”
He felt that if he concentrate on applying public health concepts to his nursing practices, he can slowly chip at society’s stereotypical views on nursing. He spoke at TEDxUCIrvine 2013 about this specific topic to spread awareness about the power of the nursing field. Among his many goals, he plans on working as a staff nurse. Once he becomes more comfortable in the field and has found a platform for research, he wants to pursue graduate education in Nursing and Public Health with an emphasis on health policy. Omeid believes that the innate care of nursing makes them well adept to create and implement effective health policy.
“I hope to work for a national or even international health organization like Center for Disease Control or World Health Organization. Theses organizations would parallel my goals to participate in outreach work in community policy. I know that the nursing field can play a strong role in advocating for those who need healthcare the most.”
With such solid humanitarian goals, I was curious to see what influenced him to become who he was. He told me that many of his personality traits come directly from his immediately family. “They all have played significant roles in my life.” He also told me that his best friend and girlfriend Heidi gave him confidence to take on a new city (Irvine) and make a name for himself.
“Growing up in Fresno, I was an awkward kid who didn’t have a direction. Upon attending UCI, Heidi helped me understand that I have a potential to have a positive affect on people and communities.”
His path in finding the potential in himself wasn’t simple. He spent his college career balancing all of his extracurriculars with his academics, research, family and friends like many college students. Despite all of these involvements he reminded himself to stay true to his beliefs.
“2 things I’d advise my freshman self. 1) Don’t take anything for granted, the 3-5 years go by fast. Live day to day and cherish the memories. 2) Have fun and go do something that you are afraid of because that’s how you grow.”
He worked on putting himself into uncomfortable situations to test whether he could grow or learn from it. Studying abroad in Chile, he collided with the sense of traveling alone, meeting new people, submerging in a new culture, and not knowing the local language (his Spanish is terrible; I know because I was in the same study abroad group).
“It [studying abroad] turned out to be the best decision I’ve has made in my college career and has given me confidence to take on more opportunities with less fear.”
At times when he is overwhelmed with responsibilities, whether it be unforeseen obstacles in research or a stressful shift at the hospital, he has a handful of go-to outlets to help let out his steam.
“I make time to exercise. I’m really liking cross-fit. I also try to run and bike as much as possible,” he pats me on the back. The two of us rode the Irvine Back Bay route every week for a couple of months. He believes in the therapeutic power of exercise and makes sure it is in his schedule during the week. Too often we tell ourselves we will work out, but get bogged down by appointments and responsibilities. Putting a specific time frame to go to the gym or on a run will help keep the exercise consistent.
“I’d also rather talk or write off my frustrations to prevent them from building up in my head. With my friends I like to hang out and debrief over a cup of coffee. Also expressing my challenges with others over a pint… only if you’re over 21… helps communalize the struggle, making the issues not as daunting. Understanding that you’re not alone in the struggle helps bring light to most issues.”
Omeid challenges himself to find ways to improve everyday. He takes steps to grasp opportunities around him that would benefit him in the long run. Despite the obstacles and frustrations, his resilience has assured him that he’s on the right path uniquely designed for himself.
“About how 2 years ago, I was pretty intimidated and overwhelmed with the academic and clinical load from my nursing classes. I strove to gain more experience, take small progressive steps, and learn as much as I could to help better prepare myself. Now I’m more relaxed and confident in my abilities during my clinicals.”
“Having a positive state of mind is when I falter from who I want to be and find the strength to keep moving forward. Success is pushed forward from within to leap boundaries. Little by little I know I’m slowly reaching my bigger goals; understanding that this pursuit will be worth the hard work drives me to progress infinitely. Doing what you love is the key. Undergraduate experience is a grand opportunity to find what you’re looking for by asking questions and seeking out new experiences. Everywhere around you, you are surrounded by amazing individuals. Find out what you want to do, and do something about it.”
– ASUCI Academic Affairs
+ Speakers and Debates Commissioner
+ Commissioner of the Year
– ASUCI Student Services: Intern
– ASUCI Legislative Council: College of Public Health Sciences Representative
– Public Health Association
+ Executive intern
+ Executive VP
– UCI Outreach Clinic: Nursing Liason
– UROP fellowship + SURP + IDSURE
+ Public Health and Nursing
+ presented at 3 different conferences
– UROP Researcher of the Month
– Published in the International Journal of STI and AIDS
– TEDxUCIrvine: spoke on experiences of being a student nurse
– Received the Program in Nursing Science Undergraduate Leadership Award
Do you know someone who has an UnParalleled perspective and inspires you to become better? Contact us with your suggestions for upcoming interviews!
Pictures Sources: Omeid Heidari, Justin Ho