Love at First NTI

Feb 03, 2020

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AACN and NTI provided the opportunity to learn and grow together, which is a phenomenal foundation to start with.

Jeremiah Darnell

Imagine the feeling of love at first sight. Caitlin, a nurse from Scripps Memorial La Jolla, California, experienced it at her very first NTI conference. She and her now husband, Jeremiah, were both from San Diego and working for the same hospital but had not met prior to NTI 2012, in Orlando. In the spirit of Valentine’s Day we spoke with them about the time they first met and how their relationship and family have continued to develop since then.

Can you tell us about the moment you first met?

Caitlin: Well, Jeremiah and I were both sent by our hospital, Scripps Memorial La Jolla, back in 2012, to Orlando. It was my first NTI, and I actually was attending the preconference for CCRN. Jeremiah already had his CCRN, but he was going to accumulate more knowledge. We met each other outside getting coffee, and we spent the rest of the conference pretty much inseparable. We’d go to conferences during the day and then, at night, we’d see what Orlando had to offer. We went looking for gators on fan boats, mini golfing and ran around Disney World. We had a great time together.

Jeremiah: It was really wonderful getting to engage with someone who understood what my life was like, and what being an ICU nurse was all about. And not only that, AACN and NTI provided the opportunity to learn and grow together, which is a phenomenal foundation to start with. Having that opportunity to share the commonality, that common interest, and being able to parlay that into a relationship has made us extremely successful and very happy.

After attending NTI and knowing that you had a spark with each other, how did you stay in touch?

Jeremiah: We stayed in touch when we got back home through, really, it was mini golf.

Caitlin: So the group that we were with at NTI would go mini golfing after the conferences, like every night, pretty much. So when we got back, we met up with the same people we had been with in Orlando and started playing mini golf in San Diego.

Jeremiah: It started out as a group of maybe four of us, and then it was three of us, and then it turned into just the two of us.

Caitlin: Just us.

Jeremiah: That’s how it stayed.

So as members of the same profession, how does that affect your relationship?

Jeremiah: I think being in the same profession impacts our relationship positively, because we work with a lot of the same people. When we come home, we’re able to debrief with one another about certain people we work with or with the situations that are going on. It’s just — we understand the same stressors.

Caitlin: We also like to learn similar things, so when I learn something at work, I run home and I tell him, and then he can apply it in his unit; it’s turned into this nice knowledge share. I think it would be very hard sharing a home with someone who did a completely different job, worked different hours or couldn’t understand how stressful it is to even work three days a week. Working 12 hours in one day is a long time, so when either of us comes home and just needs to rest — we get it.

Jeremiah: Also, nurses have a very special way of communicating with each other, dealing with stress; our humor levels are the same. It’s a very strong and important bond that nurses share, so having it in a spouse is —

Caitlin: — invaluable.

A little birdie told us that you might be expecting. If so, the bigger question is, are you playing certification tapes in hopes that they will grow up to be a nurse?

Jeremiah: So we are expecting, and we’re at the stage now where we’re starting to read to the baby at night, and I definitely think that some critical care texts will be thrown into the mix as we continue to learn and grow. While she grows, we can share that with her.

Caitlin: I mean, I would be happy if she did become a nurse, or a physician ... We understand medicine. That’s probably what she’ll grow up around, so I think that’s probably natural that she’ll fall into that position, and we’d be happy for it.

Jeremiah: Yeah, now whatever she chooses to do, we’ll be very, very pleased, but you know, nurses are pretty much the best people on the face of the planet, but yeah. We —

Caitlin: — would foster that, for sure.

We had an article in a previous issue about a married couple who studied together to get their CCRN. Have you done anything like that or would you consider it?

Jeremiah: Yes, I obtained my CCRN a few years before Caitlin did. When I went back to get my CNRN for neuroscience she helped me study, would quiz me, and then offered insights and pieces of information that I hadn’t thought about.

Caitlin: Also, after Jeremiah got his CNRN, he encouraged me to get certified as a CCRN and helped me study and prepare for it. It’s a great, supportive relationship to have.

Jeremiah: Again, it’s just one of the perks of being with someone who understands the thought processes and the science behind it. It is a pretty incredible thing to share.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to meet someone special at NTI?

Caitlin: I think you really need to be open to communicating with other people. They mentioned this in the SuperSession. Put away your phone; there’s a lot of people here who have a lot of interesting things to say. We were at the CCRN dinner last night and met wonderful people at our table that we probably wouldn’t have met otherwise, so I just think that if you’re open to it, you’ll meet them. I came with one person who I wasn’t really close to in 2012. Jeremiah just happened to be getting coffee next to me, and it all just worked out.