Living across state lines as a family nurse practitioner
Cody Yochum’s seven-on, seven-off begins on Fridays in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at St. John Medical Center, where he works as a hospitalist in the ICU and critical care units. When it ends, he’s off to OSF St. Francis in Peoria, Illinois, for three 12-hour night shifts. Then it’s back to Tulsa, where the cycle starts again. Oh, and he’s also an assistant professor, teaching courses online.
“I love what I do,” says Cody. “All of it. I’m so proud to be a nurse practitioner, and it’s not tiring for me.”
Cody earned his FNP from the Mennonite College of Nursing (MCN) in 2012, then a Doctor of Nursing Practice in 2016 from Missouri State University. Passionate about education, research, and patient advocacy, he talks excitedly about what it means to be a critical care nurse practitioner (NP)—and the misconceptions that come with it. “The NP isn’t just somebody in the office. We are right there on the front lines,” he says. “I do central lines, arterial lines, intubations — even hemodialysis lines.”
As with all nurses, NPs have the power to impact so many lives. With a ripple effect that extends beyond an individual patient, a nurse’s care touches the family and the community as well. That’s one reason Cody loves teaching—whether it’s for his own students, his residents at the hospital, or a guest lecture for another institution. For him, working in multiple communities means more opportunities to make a difference.
It’s easy to see that every patient has stayed with Cody in one way or another. The parents whose baby he delivered in the back of a pickup truck. The man he resuscitated on his day off while out to lunch with his mother. And the losses—the family whose loved one was in the ICU for eight weeks before passing, and the two children who couldn’t be saved—“You don’t get over those. I still remember. Those are the nights you just go home and ugly‑cry.”
When asked if it ever gets easier, he says, “The day I stop feeling is the day I need to switch jobs.”
But then there are the days when the impossible becomes possible: “The days when I’ve been able to make that save—to head off something thought to be inevitable—that’s what gives me the strength to get up and go.” He tells the story of a police officer who collapsed while visiting a friend in the hospital. “We did CPR for an hour,” recalls Cody. “As a last-ditch effort, we tried a second defibrillator. And it worked. Today, he’s fully recovered.” Cody’s work with double sequential fibrillation has had a lasting impact on his home hospital; indeed, he wrote the protocol on when to use it, and it’s worked 70–80 percent of the time.
A beat after being near tears, Cody is laughing and sharing stories from his Snapchat. “I consider myself a jokester,” laughs Cody. “We’re dealing with death and dying every day. We need to have fun.”
And he does. Despite his demanding work schedule, Cody makes time for adventure: Las Vegas, Australia, Memphis, Rome, several cruises. And in between, it’s his love for his jobs—along with some jazz and exercise—that keeps his spirits high.
His advice to future nursing students? “Doors are opening for you. Be willing to step through them.”
This story was originally printed as part of MCN’s 2019 Commemorative Flame Magazine. To view the full magazine, visit the Mennonite College of Nursing website.
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