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uOttawa alumnus vaccinates President Joe Biden against COVID-19

uOttawa alumnus vaccinates President Joe Biden against COVID-19 Anonymous Wed, 03/15/2023 - 13:58 home University of Ottawa uOttawa alumnus vaccinates President Joe Biden against COVID-19 Gazette Published on May 12, 2021 University of Ottawa nursing alumnus Ric Cuming administered the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to U.S. president Joe Biden. We wanted to know more about this graduate who found himself at the centre of a historical moment.
When U.S. president Joe Biden received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine just before his inauguration, all cameras were on him. You’re probably familiar with the scene in the above photo. But the person we’re really interested in now is just off to the side. He’s the one who administered the second dose to Biden, uOttawa nursing alumnus Ric Cuming (BScN ’89).   How does it feel to be at the centre of a historical moment like that? That’s what we wanted to know during our interview with this proud graduate who’s had a brilliant career in health care in the U.S.   This interview has been edited for brevity.  People from all over the world were watching that day. How did it feel to meet the President of the United States — especially under these high-pressure circumstances? It was a very professional and well-orchestrated process. The area was completely guarded with the Secret Service. I was set up in a room where I had everything I needed, which had been thoroughly inspected beforehand. The Biden team warned me in advance that there would be several press outlets. I managed to tune out everything except for what was important in that moment: my job as a nurse caring for the patient. And that just so happened to be me vaccinating the President of the United States. The first thing President Biden said to me was “thank you very much for being here”. He inquired about my fellow ChristianaCare caregivers — and how we were doing amid this pandemic while caring for the people, for their families and for one another. He was genuinely concerned that we had everything we needed to take care of our patients and ourselves. We also talked about the home health care services for which he has a particular commitment and passion. I only realized how much of a big deal it was when a friend told me “from now on, every time someone searches for COVID-19 and the United States response, your name and photo will likely come up”. The privilege of administering President Biden’s second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine was a highlight of my nursing career. Being a Canadian immigrant to the United States, the magnitude of the moment was amplified — here I was, a guy from Canada, vaccinating the next leader of the United States.  How on earth did it come to be that you were the one to give President Biden his second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine?  It was kind of a quick question actually! President Biden’s first dose of the vaccine was administered by our director of Employee Health Services. Our chief operating officer then asked if I wanted to administer the second dose.   But at that moment I didn’t give it too much thought — it was a week and a half away, and I just thought that his schedule is so incredibly busy that it could change or get cancelled at any time.   Tell us about your time at the University of Ottawa and how it prepared you for the career you have today.   Born and raised in Montreal, I graduated from the nursing school at John Abbott College in 1984. I worked in health care for a few years, and then decided to pursue my Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Ottawa, from 1986 to 1989.  My bachelor studies made me a better nurse overall — with leadership skills and a fundamental appreciation for the nursing process and science.    During my studies, I was also working part-time in the intensive care unit at the Ottawa General Hospital, and then at the Ottawa Civic Hospital, where I worked until I moved to the United States.   Today I am Chief Nurse Executive of ChristianaCare and President of ChristianaCare HomeHealth in Wilmington, Delaware.  Why did you choose to pursue a career in health care?  I ve always had a strong interest in both science and the humanities. I’m also deeply committed to caring for others. I see nursing as both an art and a science. The nursing process is a science, but the art is about caring — caring for one another, caring for human beings, caring for humanity.   My message to uOttawa readers is, when you see that your friends, family or children have a particular connection for science and an interest in caring for people, encourage them to explore a career in nursing. Nursing as a profession provides countless opportunities and limitless rewards. We all need to be on the lookout for our next generation of nurses — especially today.  Looking back on your time with President Biden, what will you remember most?   It’s that moment when, after a devastating year in our human history, hope is restored and the potential for on-going health is secured.  I’ve never been more deeply grateful for the advanced education that I received at the University of Ottawa. It gave me the leadership skills that were required to get the career I have today, which led me to the opportunity to vaccinate the president of the United States of America. It gave me confidence to fully participate in this moment in history. 


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