Students know Jeffrey Jude as their health sciences teacher but many don’t realize that he juggles a busy schedule as a registered nurse and a funeral director as well.
He first became a nurse, something that complemented his passion for helping others.
“I come from a family of nurses. There are actually 11 nurses in my family so I’ve always had an interest in helping others and I knew I wanted to go into the healthcare field because I knew I wanted to help others,” Jude said.
Having nursing experience allows him to provide his students with a real life perspective of the healthcare field.
“I can let them know about real life experiences and having communication open with people in hospitals, so I can provide them with equipment that we use like x-ray copies or textbooks used in nursing school,” Jude said.
Being a nurse comes with a lot of difficulty. Not only are they left with the responsibility of caring for patients, but they must do so during long shifts and a short staff. A schedule usually consists of three 12 hour shifts per week, which can sometimes turn into 14 hours.
“There is such a shortage of nurses and you don’t often get your breaks or lunch. We don’t have the education system to keep up with the need for more nurses,” Jude said.
Nurses also have to work shifts during severe weather.
“During a hurricane, I was on the A shift so I had to come in before the hurricane started and ride it out. You sleep there, eat there, bathe there, all until the hurricane is over. You’re stuck at the hospital and you’re on emergency generators because the power goes out. You have to take care of patients using flashlights,” Jude said.
Despite the difficulties, the job comes with immeasurable rewards.
“It’s rewarding seeing your patients get better. I believe that being a nurse is a calling and you have to want to care for your patients. You can’t go into it for the money because you will get burned out,” Jude said.
Jude currently picks up shifts as needed in the emergency room at WakeMed. He also does camp nursing at Camp Tall Timbers in West Virginia during the summers.
Jude first got into the funeral business after helping out a family friend at his funeral home. He picked up responsibilities like taking charge of working visitations, working with families and providing emotional support, cleaning the home, setting up flower arrangements, and even picking up the bodies.
“Being a nurse and funeral director, you see the beginning of life and the end of life. I can care for someone in their life, but I can also care for someone from death and help their families. I get to help people in all aspects of their life,” Jude said.
He goes back to West Virginia every eight weeks and works on the weekends. Naturally, being a funeral director comes with a huge emotional responsibility.
“You have to learn to separate from the emotional side. The families look to you to support them. Its okay to cry but its not okay to do it so much so that the family has to console you. You have to be the rock for families,” Jude said.
Not only is he is a nationally board certified funeral director and embalmer, but he also has a floral design certificate.
“I have a floral design certificate because I wanted to use that in my funeral directing. If a family comes in and asked about what types of flowers they might want to use, I want to be able to answer those questions. The floral industry and funeral directing go hand in hand,” Jude said.
Of course, his first love has always been teaching, something that he has wanted to do since high school.
“I’ve always wanted to be a teacher. Even in high school, I knew I wanted to go into education. It’s always been a passion of mine,” Jude said.
So, how exactly does he manage his incredibly busy schedule?
“You have to be extremely organized. I get my schedules a month ahead of time and I’m able to plan out at least 4 weeks ahead. I use my calendar for everything. It’s always about planning and organization,” Jude said. “I don’t like down time. I’m always super active and my mind constantly wanders when I have down time. I try to use that time to be productive and do something.”
On his ability to handle stress, Jude credits the time that he always make sure to set aside for himself.
“Whether it is just an hour at night or a full Saturday, I make time for me. With having multiple responsibilities, you have to take care of yourself. I always make time for the beach. If I can go away for the weekend, I can recharge and rejuvenate,” Jude said.