With Veterans Day tomorrow, it seems appropriate to highlight the achievements of Charles Kaiman, an artist and a clinical nurse specialist in psychiatric mental health who works with veterans, primarily those with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Kaiman recently received the Excellence in Behavioral Health Nursing Award at the 2011 New Mexico Nursing Excellence Awards for his work as a caregiver for veterans at the New Mexico Veterans Affairs Health Care System in Albuquerque.
In this video interview, posted on YouTube by KASA FOX 2, an affiliate of the Fox Broadcasting Company, Kaiman speaks about how he decided to become a nurse, the symptoms of and treatment strategies for PTSD, and what he sees day to day while working with Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans—an experience he calls “one of the most rewarding” of his life.
When asked why he became a nurse, Kaiman said he was first inspired when he was 10 years old, reading a book by Albert Schweitzer that argued no one could be happy unless they learned to serve others. Later, when Kaiman was trying to make ends meet as an artist, his father suggested becoming a nurse because he would “never be out of work.” And his father was right.
Kaiman has now worked as a nurse for 31 years, 26 of those specifically with veterans. When asked about the rewards of helping others and what he would say to those interested in entering the nursing profession, his answer was clear:
“I can’t believe I get paid for this. It’s the greatest thing you can do for the world and for yourself. I completely and absolutely urge everyone who is interested to become a nurse.”
Kaiman’s artwork has been featured in AJN‘s monthly Art of Nursing and twice on AJN’s cover (September 2009 and September 2011). His painting “America the Beautiful” appeared on our September cover in honor of the 10th anniversary of 9/11; for more about that cover, read our blog post and see On the Cover.—Amy M. Collins, AJN associate editor