By Joseph Gaccione (UNLV School of Nursing Associate Director of Communications)
Twenty five years ago, UNLV School of Nursing alumna Kim Gerringer met a shy U.S. Army veteran and future SON alumnus named Kevin George at a motorcycle charity event in Colorado. They didn’t know it at the time, but that moment would evolve into a shared ride together through life.
Gerringer and George both have a common passion for helping others, even if their styles are different. But like any strong relationship, they balance each other out with their own unique strengths while staying committed to themselves and those they care for.
Road to Each Other
In 1997, George met Gerringer at the Colorado 500, an invitational ride designed to raise awareness for trails preservation and other essential community needs. They kept in touch from there, but the friendship eventually turned romantic. Gerringer remembers the moment she knew she found her man, and it involves a bunny. At their Colorado home, George found his dog carrying a little rabbit in its mouth. George quickly picked it up and put it in a box before going to a pet store for food; he eventually raised it as a pet. Gerringer remembers how sweet he looked caring for this rabbit. “He got these little tiny bottles and this formula,” she says. “He fed, nourished and kept that little bunny alive. To me, that was his heart.” That heart led Gerringer and George to exchange vows on New Year’s Eve in 2010, atop the Binion’s Hotel.
Roads to Nursing
Gerringer graduated among the first nursing students at UNLV, back when the campus was known as Southern Nevada University. She received her AA degree in 1968. Gerringer’s desire to become a nurse goes back to her childhood, growing up with elderly grandparents (including one who was an LPN) and helping take care of them. In high school, Gerringer worked as a CNA at a hospital with Catholic nuns, learning as much as a first-year nursing student.
George’s path to nursing was more unconventional. After spending eight years in the U.S. Army, he transitioned to computer programming at Hewlett Packard in the nineties for another eight years before the company downsized and laid off him and many others. Prior to becoming a nursing student, George was working different odd jobs while dating Gerringer. He says he was slowly inspired by her nursing stories to pursue a health-related career. But it didn’t click until spending time with Gerringer’s brother, who had Guillain-Barre Syndrome. “He was ill and in the hospital,” George recalls. “I remember a couple of times having to go over to help. I watched what was going on around the emergency room… I could see some of the nurses who I thought were very helpful.” Gerringer added, ”[Kevin] came out and said, ‘I like this. I can do this. I see what Kim does. I'm going to be a nurse.’” George ultimately graduated from UNLV with his BSN in 2007.
Aside from different graduation times, Gerringer and George have different gifts as nurses. She says she’s more comfortable with the personal interactions within patient care and being able to analyze a situation walking into a room. “The nuns taught us that when we walked into a room, if it was dirty and messy and things on the floor, healing doesn't take place in that kind of environment,” Gerringer recalls. “We need to provide some order for them.”
On the flip side, Gerringer says her husband is more skilled with technology, something she didn’t let him forget. “I say to him, ‘If we would go to work together, I could interact with the patients and comfort them. You're too technical. You're busy with all those machines.’ I was on him all the time,” she says. In fact, George admits when he started nursing clinicals, he had to get used to dealing with patients face-to-face. “That was a little intimidating to me. I was doing night shifts when I first started, and I had a fear of waking people. You go in there and you have to give medication or something like that when they're asleep; you have to wake them up. I just never liked having to wake people up, but I got over that.”
But despite the opposites, George says he’s awed by his wife’s ability to handle herself in various situations, most notably during a nasty car accident they both witnessed in Sacramento, California one time. On the way to a birthday dinner for Kevin, they saw a head-on collision while crossing a bridge. “There's a big mess, and she got out and went to the different cars, making sure they're all right,” he remembers. “She handled that whole situation, and I thought that was very impressive. The way she calmly took care of making sure these people were okay.” Gerringer says she crowd controlled the situation while Kevin checked everyone’s physical conditions before first responders arrived. She adds they left once they could hear sirens. “We knew they were in good hands,” she says. “[Kevin] loves to tell everybody I was going around telling everybody what to do in my high heels.”
These days, the couple shares adventures in traveling, skilling, and volunteering in the community, specifically with the Colorado 500. George currently works as a floor nurse in the IMC PCU at Rose Medical Center in Denver, Colorado. Although Gerringer is still technically licensed, she doesn’t work like she used to. Still, she cherishes her nurse education. She says, “Nursing, to me, is not a job. It's a way of life, and I incorporate it in everything that I do and still do.”
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