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O’Briens Nurture Family Tradition in Nursing at RCC

O’Briens Nurture Family Tradition in Nursing at RCC

(l-r): Dave O'Brien, Christine McCarthy, John O'Brien, Diane O'Brien, Jessica O'Brien.

Three generations of family excel in College’s Nursing program

DATE: January 17, 2017

John O’Brien knew he had some big shoes to fill when he decided to enroll in Rockland Community College’s Nursing program. Both his father, Dave (in 2006), and his grandmother, Terry (in 1975), had served as student speakers for their respective Nurses’ Pinning ceremonies when they graduated. Following in this family tradition, John recently became the third member of the O’Brien family to earn student speaker honors at the RCC ceremony.

The family’s nursing connections don’t even stop there - John’s mother, sister, and girlfriend, are all nurses too. Grandmother Terry O’Brien is now retired, after a long tenure as staff nurse at Nyack Hospital, but the others are keeping the O’Brien name prominently aloft in the profession. John’s mom, Diane, whom he endearingly calls “the matriarch of the family,” has been a nurse for more than 30 years and currently serves as director of staff education at Good Samaritan Medical Center in West Palm Beach, FL.

Dave O’Brien gave up a successful printing business after September 11, 2001 to heed a call into nursing, drawing on his experience as a fire chief at Pearl River Hook and Ladder and as an EMT with the Pearl River Ambulance Corps. He has risen to Chief Nursing Officer at Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center in Palm Beach, FL. “I remember my father saying after his graduation from RCC that he would love to run [the Nursing department at] a hospital one day,” John O’Brien said. “If you asked him 10 years ago I don’t think he would have expected it to happen as quickly as it did.”

His sister, Jessica O’Brien, became a clinical nurse specialist and serves as a project manager for quality and safety at New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center in NYC. John’s girlfriend, Christine McCarthy, graduated at the same time from RCC’s Nursing program, and currently works as a nurse’s aide at Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern. John has been working as a monitor technician on the telemetry floor at Phelps Memorial Hospital Center in Sleepy Hollow, NY, with expectations of landing a nursing position soon.

“The more skilled people you have on your team, the stronger you are,” said John, who was raised in Pearl River and now lives in Nyack. “Nursing is a team effort and I think that’s what draws my family to it. It’s amazing being able to help people, but it’s also amazing to be able to progress and grow everyday as a unit.”