PITTSBURG — It was the care Evan Greenwell received at Children’s Mercy Kansas City which inspired him to become a nurse with dreams of working in the hospital’s burn unit.
Although Greenwell was not hired directly into the burn unit, he was hired to be a nurse at Children’s Mercy, Kansas in Overland Park.

Greenwell, a nursing student from Tonganoxie, was a 13 years old on summer break when he caught fire after gasoline was poured on a nearby brush pile.
“We made a runner to throw the match out, but we must have waited too long and the fumes spread around, and by the time I struck it the fire caught,” he said.

He stood there and couldn’t feel the fire at first, his father quickly began the process of extinguishing the fire then his parents promptly drove him to a hospital in Lawrence.

Halfway there, then it “hit.” Ouch.
“I’ve broken bones, torn ACL’s, all of that accumulated together didn’t even compare,” he said.

Once he was stabilized following the accident, he was then taken by ambulance to Children’s Mercy where he stayed for a week.  

The accident left Greenwell with red puffy burns across his face and on the majority of his left arm. He underwent debridement which is a painful process in which dead, damaged, and infected tissue is removed to improve the healing potential of the remaining healthy tissue.

It was the nurses’ ability to understand what families needed past the medical perspective that left an impact on him, he said.  
“The nurses there, everything people say about Children’s Mercy is true,” Greenwell said. “They are just phenomenal and the nurses really care, not only about you but they care about your family.
“When you’re treating kids, their parents are just as much involved.”

It was the small things, such as bringing in a laptop for him to play with because he couldn’t go to the playroom because of the risk of infection.

They also seemed to know just what his family needed, from food to where to stay. He also applauded the Ronald McDonald House, another service which Greenwell said helped his family.

When he got into high school, it was time to start thinking about what to do when he grew up. He looked back on his accident and Children’s Mercy.
“I looked back and I just wanted a chance to be able to give back to people, the same care I received when I needed it the most,” Greenwell said.

Greenwell said he hopes that he will inspire other children to pursue the healthcare field and continue the pattern.

While in high school, Greenwell volunteered at Lawrence Memorial Hospital for two summers. During the second summer he spent time volunteering in the intensive care unit, stocked rooms and answered phones.

Greenwell found out about Pittsburg State University through a family friend whose children attended the university. He ended up going to sibling day and later toured the Irene Ransom Bradley School of Nursing.
“I found out how good the nursing program was, retention, and NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination) pass rates and the professors seemed cool on the tour,” he said. “And the atmosphere around the town, there’s gorilla statues everywhere.
“The atmosphere felt really nice here.”

He also made several trips to the university with family friends to tailgate.

Once he was accepted into the nursing school he found out how much he had to study, nearly every day he was at the library. Greenwell said he developed close friendships with his nursing peers and they kept each other on their toes when it came to studying hard for their weekly exams.

For his community health clinicals Greenwell spent time at Frontenac School District with School Nurse Eileen McFarland, a “phenomenal nurse, she really helped me improve my communication techniques with kids,” he said. “You can’t ask them is your pain burning, aching, throbbing, jabbing, they don’t know what that means.”

Greenwell’s capstone internship was on the pediatric floor at Freeman Hospital in Joplin, Missouri. He was on the night shift on unit and completed his internship at 7 a.m. Tuesday.
“It gave me more good experience, especially with communicating with kids,” he said.

In February the big news arrived, Greenwell was hired as a nurse for Children’s Mercy Kansas in Overland Park.
“My parents cried on the phone when they found out, the couldn’t believe and I couldn’t either honestly,” Greenwell said. “To just be hired to Children’s Mercy to start is unbelievable.”

Greenwell said he wants to use his experience as a patient at Children’s Mercy and incorporate it into how he cares for his future clients.
Previous to that, Greenwell went to an open house where he visited booths and spoke to potential employers where he was given a job at St. Luke’s in Kansas City. Greenwell said they understood his choice and encouraged him to choose his desired path.  

Greenwell said he will be keeping an eye out on the opportunity to work at the Children’s Mercy burn unit.

After studying gerontology, pediatrics, obstetrics and more, along with several hours of studying — pages and pages of highlighted and color coordinated notes — he has finally reached the end of his college career.

On Friday his mother, Kristin Greenwell, had the honor of pinning him during the Nurse Pinning Ceremony in the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts and later that evening he graduated with his peers during the 2019 PSU Commencement Ceremony with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

Greenwell gave credit to his professors who he said wanted all of their students to succeed and to fulfill their goals — just like him.