Reginald Bannerman, MSN/MBA (Nurs ’03), Cert (Nurs ’99), Nurs ’97 always knew he wanted to pursue medicine so that he could help people. But he discovered nursing would be his calling when he was introduced to a family friend who became a key role model.
“That was my first exposure to someone who was a male and was in nursing school,” he says. “I thought this might be an area that I could consider, although my mother always preferred for me to go to medical school.”
After earning his associate’s degree in nursing in New York, Bannerman suffered an unexpected tragedy when his brother died. This profound loss led him to reassess his priorities and decide to move closer to his family in Maryland. Bannerman aspired to work at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1995, but he also discovered a path to continue his education at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, where he enrolled the following year. Through his initial nursing degree, BSN, and the combined MSN/MBA degree program, Hopkins has been with him every step of the way.
While in school he began his career in inpatient adult psychiatry, then moved to outpatient substance abuse treatment at Johns Hopkins Bayview. He then went to work as a manager in 2004 at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., where he now serves as director of nursing of the psychiatry department.
“I love the work that I do,” he says, “Because I think that children still have time and resilience, no matter how difficult the circumstances they’ve been in. It’s always a challenge, but with the right resources, I believe ideally that they can make an improvement, and the children can have a better trajectory.”
Bannerman acknowledges that he would not have gotten to the career that he loves without his Hopkins education and the help of those who generously helped him along the way. He feels especially indebted to the former Director of the Nursing Alumni Association, Melinda Rose. Inspired by his gratitude, he returns regularly to the School of Nursing to volunteer as a mentor for students trying to find the best path in their careers.
Bannerman shares wisdom with students about everything from writing cover letters to self-care strategies for dealing with emotional days on the job.
“Our work is very, very stressful. You have to find an outlet to be able to deal with some of the raw emotions because if we don’t, they’re going to bottle up, and it’s a bad place to be,” he says adding that his outlet is exercise.
Working in the sensitive area of child and adolescent psychiatry, Bannerman is familiar with how to cope with the trauma he observes and feels compelled to share this wisdom with the next generation of Hopkins nurses.
Thinking back on his late brother’s love for volunteerism, Bannerman says he wants to do this work for that legacy. “If we’re going to sit and say, this bad thing happened to me and my life can never go on — that is not helpful,” he says. “We have to take inspiration from desperation, to make amends.”
Topics: Alumni, Friends of Johns Hopkins Medicine, School of Nursing, Support Scholars