Marine Corps reservist finds calling in nursing

Abdulwahab “Freddy” Frederickson now helps cancer patients at Sanford following military service

Marine Corps reservist finds calling in nursing

Many doctors and nurses at Sanford Health know from a very young age that they want a career in medicine. For some though, that calling comes a bit later.

From machinery to medicine

Abdulwahab “Freddy” Frederickson had no plans to get into nursing when he volunteered for the U.S. armed forces.

“I thought I was going to be a mechanical engineer,” said Frederickson. “That’s what I went to the Marine Corps for. I wanted to design vehicles or at least work with motors, some grease, you know, that’s what I wanted to do.”

As a Lance Corporal in the Marine Corps Reserve, Frederickson was able to continue his education after high school, while also plying his trade.

“I was a heavy equipment engineer (in the reserves), but I soon figured out that I didn’t want to be stuck doing tractor stuff in the area,” Frederickson said with a laugh.

“We could also try to take a few classes with different military operations and, you know, expand our knowledge. One of them was combat medicine. Once I took that class, I felt like it was a new beginning. I was interested in the discussions, I was interested in the topic, almost like I was interested in engineering at first, but with a whole new drive, a whole new passion that I never really thought I had.”

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He quickly changed his major to nursing, and eventually began working at Sanford as a nursing assistant while still serving as a reservist.

“Sanford made me feel like I didn’t have to worry about getting time off or accommodating my needs between nursing school and my military career,” Frederickson said.

Applying all that he’s learned

Nowadays, Frederickson is a clinical care leader in oncology at Sanford Roger Maris Cancer Center in Fargo, North Dakota, assisting cancer patients through their chemotherapy or bone marrow transplant treatments. He says his military experience serves him well in his role every day.

“Nursing has all those aspects. You’ve got a little bit of adrenaline, you’ve got some problem-solving, you’ve got interacting with other people and making relationships,” Frederickson said. “Nursing kind of brought it all together into one big picture. I get new things every day. I feel like I’m challenging myself. I feel like I’m improving on myself every day. And that’s not something that I could say for every job I ever had.”

He also says he is quick to bond with veteran patients when they find out he served as well.

“There’s a bond that just happens. It definitely creates a connection,” said Frederickson. “Mutual respect is something that I feel is stronger, or maybe it happens quicker I guess. They trust you a little bit more because they know you’re one of them in a sense.”

That helps quite a bit during difficult chemotherapy treatments.

“Some days are hard, you know? It’s a taxing treatment and not everyone gets to where they want to be unfortunately,” Frederickson said. “You try to instill a little bit of hope or a little bit of courage in them, pass on a little bit of a smile to their day.”

Frederickson plans on continuing his education and working towards becoming a nurse practitioner next. Nearly a decade after enlisting and working on heavy machinery, Freddy Frederickson has transitioned fully into medicine.

“All those tests you take in high school, trying to predict what you would enjoy based off of what your skills are, I mean, medicine and nursing were never even close to like the top 50,” Frederickson said. “It was a pleasant surprise. And every day that I come to work, I’m so thankful that I made that decision to switch.”

So are his patients, and everyone who works alongside him at Sanford Health.

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Posted In Fargo, Nursing and Nursing Support, Sanford Stories, Veterans