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Stars Making A Social Impact: Why & How Blake Lynch, ‘Nurse Blake’ Is Helping To Change Our World

An Interview With Edward Sylvan

Enjoy the ride. I would have never guessed nursing would lead me to start my Nurse Blake social media pages and that I’d be going on tour making people laugh. Life is a journey so take different paths and try new routes because your ride can take you on a wild journey. Roll your windows down and blast the music.

As a part of our series about leaders who are using their social media platform to make a significant social impact, we had the pleasure of interviewing Blake Lynch, also known as Nurse Blake.

Nurse Blake is a nurse, creator, and touring comedian. He started his journey 5 years ago by creating Facebook videos as a way to de-stress and share his nursing experience in a comedic way. His videos went viral and connected nurses and nursing students together from around the world. He now takes his comedy to stages around the world bringing nurses together through his humor and inspiration. He’s also the author of his children’s book, I Want To Be A NURSE When I Grow Up, which is a best seller on Amazon.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Thanks so much for having me! To be honest, there is no other career I considered other than nursing. Ok, I lie, in middle school, I thought I wanted to be a meteorologist but that only lasted a week. My dad worked as a respiratory therapist for many years and growing up I was always intrigued by his stories of patients and how he was able to help save their lives. He worked on the night shift so I remember him leaving for work with his stethoscope as I was having dinner and he would come home from work in the morning as I was eating breakfast before school. Fast forward to today, I’ve now been a nurse for 8 years and am still happy with my decision to pick nursing as my career.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began this career?

Doing comedy! I never ever thought that nursing would lead me to doing comedy shows around the world. I entered this profession to bring smiles and laughs to patients but as I’ve evolved in my career, I realized that nurses need smiles and laughs too. In this rewarding but strenuous career, it’s important to connect with others through sharing stories and I’m so lucky I get to do that on a daily basis with nurses and nursing students from all over.

It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

During nursing school, there are a variety of skills that we need to practice and pass in order to progress through the program. One of the skills is “sterile technique”, the process of putting on clean gloves in a particular way, to remain sterile. I was so nervous in my check-off that my hands were sweating so much, that I couldn’t get the gloves on. It looked like I had dipped my hands in water. For some reason, when I practiced myself I was of course able to do it, but as soon as I had to do it in front of my professor, I was this HOT MESS! I totally failed the check-off, but as I was preparing to retake it, I realized I kept getting in my own head instead of trusting myself with what I know. So many times we fail to give credit to ourselves and we freeze up in front of others from a feeling of nervousness or imposter syndrome. As I moved through my studies and now my comedy, I always tell myself to relax, breathe, trust my skills, and have a little fun.

You have been blessed with success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?

Nursing isn’t easy. If you’re in this for the money, you’re definitely in the wrong profession. But if you’re in this for your passion for helping others, then you are going to thrive. Nursing is a career where you are always learning. Healthcare and medicine are always changing so it’s a profession that requires the ability to adapt and a willingness to improve. If you’ve ever considered nursing because you want to care for others, then do it!!!

Ok super. Let’s now jump to the core focus of our interview. Can you describe to our readers how you are using your platform to make a significant social impact?

Being a nurse and having over 3 million followers, I try my best to bring awareness to issues and causes that impact patients and healthcare workers. The most important issue I believe needs to be addressed is the staffing crisis. Currently, there are no mandates, except in a few states like California, that require hospitals to be fully staffed. This causes nurses to constantly be overworked and patients to not receive the care and attention they deserve. There is an agency whose sole job is to accredit healthcare facilities on a variety of safety standards, but they leave out the most crucial element, safe staffing. They have no standards for measuring hospitals on being safely staffed. I recently took to my social media to share examples of nurses working short staffed and I received thousands of messages. I decided to call out this agency and start a petition for them to begin setting standards for staffing. In a matter of days, the petition reached over a half a million signatures and once we hit that goal I hand delivered them to the agency’s headquarters with a group of nurses.

Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted by this cause?

While I can’t give you one particular example, with over 4 million registered nurses in the US and over 10 million healthcare workers, advocating for safe staffing affects millions of healthcare staff and millions of patients. This cause essentially impacts the whole US healthcare system and changes would greatly improve patient outcomes.

Was there a tipping point that made you decide to focus on this particular area? Can you share a story about that?

I get messages from nurses and nursing students all the time and there was one in particular that inspired me to focus on safe staffing. It was from a nurse who’s been working in pediatrics for over 20 years and was at the point where she felt so overworked and stretched thin that she didn’t feel she was providing the care that her patients truly need. This caused her to question her value as a nurse and was considering leaving the profession. This message made me realize that it’s time to open the discussion about safe staffing to avoid having amazing nurses leave a profession where they are needed most.

Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

Understand: If you’re not a nurse or don’t know anyone that is a nurse, it’s hard to imagine a life in their shoes (or their scrubs). I ask for your understanding. This isn’t about making nursing easier for nurses, it’s about giving nurses adequate time to care for their patients.

Educate: Educate yourself on where certain people stand in relation to healthcare. Healthcare is always a top priority when it comes to elections so it’s so important that you vote for the person that will help address nurse staffing and someone that cares about patient safety.

Vote: Get out there and vote! Politicians need to pass laws and regulations that require safe staffing mandates to ensure that patients are receiving adequate and safe care.

What specific strategies have you been using to promote and advance this cause? Can you recommend any good tips for people who want to follow your lead and use their social platform for a social good?

Those who don’t work directly in healthcare may not understand or even know unsafe staffing is an issue. I started sharing stories from my followers about how staffing affects them and their patients. I was getting so many messages from others wanting to help create change. I decided to create a call to action with an online petition on to encourage healthcare accreditation organizations to start requiring safe staffing. For those wanting to use their social platform for good, do it! Social media is an easy and free way to reach hundreds or even millions of people. Develop a community of others that share your same passion and work together on your cause.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

Be yourself. When I started nursing, I thought I needed to hide the fact that I’m part of the LGBTQ+ community. I quickly learned that by being myself, I’m able to help and connect with patients in my community in a way that others can’t.

You’re not perfect. I tried so hard to be the perfect nursing student, the perfect nurse, but there is no such thing. This career path is a journey in which you’re always learning and growing.

Don’t be afraid of pushback. If you’re passionate about something, there’s a reason! When I first started speaking out about safe staffing, I knew it wouldn’t be easy. I quickly learned that despite leaders in the space telling me no, there were so many others who felt this same way and we needed to be vocal together.

Ask for help. You can’t do everything yourself. Ask for help when you need it. Chances are someone in your network has been through something similar and may have a suggestion you didn’t think of. I definitely look to my husband, friends or other family for help when I just need advice or a second opinion.

Enjoy the ride. I would have never guessed nursing would lead me to start my Nurse Blake social media pages and that I’d be going on tour making people laugh. Life is a journey so take different paths and try new routes because your ride can take you on a wild journey. Roll your windows down and blast the music.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

One thing that I’m also passionate about is affordable and accessible healthcare for all people. And pets, I feel like pets should have free healthcare too! It’s sad when I hear stories from patients that have massive amounts of medical debt, especially when it leads to bankruptcy. Healthcare needs and should be a human right. As easy as this should be, I know it will be a long fight but we have to begin somewhere.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Have fun. Do good.” No matter what project I’m working on, I try to balance these both out. Life can be a complicated mess sometimes. It’s always good to remember to try to have fun, especially in the most challenging times. It’s equally important to do good whenever possible. Make people smile. Make people laugh. Make people feel loved.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a power lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Easy! I would have lunch with RuPaul. As a queer person, he has been a role model that I’ve looked up to for so long. He taught me the importance of being unapologetically myself, helping others succeed, and advocating whenever possible. With such a popular TV franchise RuPaul’s Drag Race, he always looks for special moments to remind people to vote and be active with what is happening in certain communities. While the show is fun, colorful, and has lots of wigs, he always brings in these special moments that inspire me. If I had lunch with him, I would like to ask him the same set of questions you asked me. Mind if I borrow these questions? Haha.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Thanks so much for having me! Much Love and feel free to follow me @nurse.blake on instagram and @nurseblake on TikTok.

This was very meaningful, thank you so much!

About The Interviewer: Growing up in Canada, Edward Sylvan was an unlikely candidate to make a mark on the high-powered film industry based in Hollywood. But as CEO of Sycamore Entertainment Group Inc, (SEGI) Sylvan is among a select group of less than ten Black executives who have founded, own and control a publicly traded company. Now, deeply involved in the movie business, he is providing opportunities for people of color.

In 2020, he was appointed president of the Monaco International Film Festival, and was encouraged to take the festival in a new digital direction.

Raised in Toronto, he attended York University where he studied Economics and Political Science, then went to work in finance on Bay Street, (the city’s equivalent of Wall Street). After years of handling equities trading, film tax credits, options trading and mergers and acquisitions for the film, mining and technology industries, in 2008 he decided to reorient his career fully towards the entertainment business.

With the aim of helping Los Angeles filmmakers of color who were struggling to understand how to raise capital, Sylvan wanted to provide them with ways to finance their creative endeavors.

At Sycamore Entertainment he specializes in print and advertising financing, marketing, acquisition and worldwide distribution of quality feature-length motion pictures, and is concerned with acquiring, producing and promoting films about equality, diversity and other thought provoking subject matter which will also include nonviolent storytelling.

Sylvan has been featured in Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and has been seen on Fox Business News, CBS and NBC. Sycamore Entertainment Group Inc is headquartered in Seattle, with offices in Los Angeles and Vancouver.

Stars Making A Social Impact: Why & How Blake Lynch, ‘Nurse Blake’ Is Helping To Change Our World was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.