Merit Badges to Medical Professional – One Scout’s Unique Leadership Path

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Ask successful leaders what first inspired them to embark on their journeys toward achievement and you’ll hear a wide variety of answers. It’s not often you learn that it started with a cartoon.

But that’s exactly what Eagle Scout and local nursing student Christian Prescott would tell you.

As a youth, he regularly watched a Scout-like cartoon on television, intrigued by rewards the characters received after completing tasks. “I remember watching that with friends and thinking that would be really cool to earn badges for camping or hiking or cooking,’” Christian says.

Although he and his mom checked into several different programs, Christian didn’t find the type of experience he was looking for. “You go, you have fun, and then you go back home,” he says. He craved that repeated satisfaction of working toward a goal, succeeding, and moving on to the next goal.

Then he saw a sign. Literally.

“We were driving and saw a Boy Scout sign on the side of the road,” Christian remembers. “We were thinking, ‘Ok, Boy Scouts are going to have badges.’ The signs led us to this church where they were signing up people for Scouting. It worked out with perfect timing.”

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However, Christian’s earliest experiences were far from perfect. “I was completely new at that point,” he says of his start as an eighth grader. “Being around a bunch of new people wasn’t a problem, but the biggest challenge was not being prepared.”

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Christian had little experience camping and didn’t know the ins and outs of gear and strategies to withstand the elements. “I didn’t really know you should bring a little pad to go under your sleeping bag or bring multiple layers of clothes,” he says. “I didn’t have the right socks so when we went hiking, I would get blisters. I honestly wanted to give up on it.”

He persevered. That and he visited a local store specializing in outdoor activities. It made a world of difference.

“We got the right socks and the right type of sleeping bag,” he says with a laugh. “I realized you have to wear more than one layer. It wasn’t the prettiest journey, but I stuck with it and fell in love with it after that.”

Along the way, Christian earned many merit badges and achieved the rank of Eagle Scout. He is an assistant Scoutmaster with his troop and loves attending the younger members’ Eagle Scout ceremonies.

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Christian carries the many lessons he learned as a Scout into his next stage of life – nursing school. “When you’re an Eagle Scout, you teach other people around you how to tie certain types of knots or how to prepare for a hike the proper way,” he says. “With nursing, you’re teaching not only the patient but their families how to take care of an ailment or about a surgery they might have.”

img_1229.jpgA recent encounter really brought this connection to life for him. “I had a patient in the hospital with a deep vein thrombosis – a blood clot in one of his lower legs,” he says. “One of the biggest risks is that it can dislodge and go to the person’s lungs, which could lead to a pulmonary embolism, preventing them from exchanging oxygen. At that point, it’s really hard to save the person.

“The discharge teaching is when you teach the person what to do when they leave the hospital,” he continues. “I realized that the person’s family wasn’t really taking it that seriously. If this patient’s family wasn’t supporting him, it was very likely he was going to be back in this hospital within 90 days. I decided to take a leadership position, like I had learned in Scouting, and step up for what’s right even when everyone in that room might not agree.”

Christian reflected on his experience earning his cooking merit badge. He had learned not only how to prepare food, but how to care for the body. “I connected that with nursing because we’re not simply learning ‘eat your fruits and vegetables and avoid fats and snacks,’ but really understanding how it affects the body, the physiology of it.”

IMG_2960_JPEGHe did the same for the patient and the family by explaining why certain foods would need to be avoided because of how they would affect the patient’s chances at recovery. “At that point they started taking it more seriously,” he says. “They started asking questions, like what they could eat as alternatives to fried foods. They took that information from me and, so far, I haven’t seen the patient come back in.”

Christian never could have imagined how his fascination with a cartoon could lead to opportunities, like this one, to help change a life. To start your Scouting adventure, visit the Old North State Council website at http://www.bsaonsc.org or call 336 378-9166.

 

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