My Kaiser Permanente Story: David Hobler, RN

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David Hobler became a nurse in large part because of the excellent, compassionate care he received as a patient at Kaiser Permanente Santa Rosa.

Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series about the people of Kaiser Permanente and why they find KP a great place to work and build a career.

David Hobler, RN, came to nursing in a most unusual way.

Hobler, 60, is a medical-surgical nurse at Kaiser Permanente Santa Rosa. But nearly 8 years ago he was an environmental engineer—then he suffered a devastating stroke.

Hobler’s stroke caused him to lose 90 percent of his sight and nearly all the coordination of his limbs on his left side. Over the course of a 1-month recovery at Kaiser Permanente Santa Rosa, he worked to regain the full use of his left arm and leg, but it took nearly 2 years and 4 surgeries to regain his sight.

By 2008, Hobler was physically ready to return to work but he decided to go to nursing school instead. He said the care he received at Kaiser Permanente Santa Rosa as a recovering stroke patient inspired him to become a nurse and eventually work at the hospital that changed the direction of his life.

What was it about your experience that made you want to become a nurse, and why did you want to work for Kaiser Permanente?

I had 2 extremely patient and compassionate nurses take care of me in Santa Rosa when I was recovering from my stroke—and they inspired me. One was David Peck, who retired 3 months after I got my job at KP, and I was able to thank him. The other nurse’s name was Judy, and I haven’t been able to find her.

Both nurses treated me with such care. They knew my vision was impaired, so they took the time to make sure they didn’t startle me, and they helped me do simple things like order food. They would vividly explain what they were doing as they were caring for me, and it started to intrigue me. The whole experience made me want to be nurses like them. My mother was a nurse, and I’ve always thought I should’ve been a nurse, but we didn’t have a nursing school where I grew up in South Dakota.

Kaiser Permanente was the place that helped me recover, and I was very impressed with the attitude of the people who worked there and the state of the art treatments I received. At the time, it was more of an intuitive feeling, but I thought, ‘This is the place I have to work.’

How does the fact that you were a stroke patient affect your nursing?

From my very first day on my very first job, I’ve thought it’s different for me because I’ve been ill. I can tell when someone’s uncomfortable in the hospital. Some of my first words to them are ‘I’ve been in that bed, so I know what you’re going through, and I’ll be happy to help you however I can.’ That usually puts people at ease.

What keeps you motivated as a nurse?

I’m chemotherapy certified now, so I see people at a very hard time in their life. It can be trying because you get so attached to them and there’s always the question of death. It’s hard, but it’s also emotionally rewarding.

I get to work early—something I never did as an engineer—so I can review my patients’ notes. I work nights, and I like to see what’s happened during the day. I do that because I want to know as much as I can about a person before I start taking care of them.

KP inspires me to be the nurse I need to be to my patients. We all get the emails, so I know we’re 5-star rated for Medicare, and we’re a great place to get care. I want to make sure that continues.

Discussion10 Comments

  1. Very inspiring and thank you for sharing your story. I too am a Kaiser patient and a nurse. I’ve been a member for several years. I stay because of the care and compassion of the nurses and staff. Recently, I had a small procedure done which really only required 1 nurse to perform but another nurse came in to talk to me. She made sure I was comfortable. She didn’t have to do that. It’s just those kind of interactions that you don’t forget. That has been my experience at Kaiser.

  2. Cynthia Suzara, LVN

    David, just like Ana Batista, your story moved me to the point of tears. So deeply touched was I by the strength and depth of your spirit; the determination and perseverance that you must have endured to go across the spectrum of wellness and beyond to truly be an inspiration to people on both the receiving and giving side of health care. You are an angel/messenger of hope.

  3. Katherine Johnston

    Your personal experience is such an inspiration! Your story needs to be shared with students going in the medical field as well as patients who have suffered stroke. Thank you for sharing. You have that gift of giving and compassion!

  4. David: What an inspiration you are to all of us. Your story bought tears to my eyes. You are a gift. Thank you for your commitment .

    • Thank you for sharing, David, very inspiring story! I was a Kaiser member before becoming a Kaiser employee. The year before I was hired with Kaiser I had a surgery and leading up to it I was so scared. I have to say of the nurses who tended to me, I still remember the kind and respectful care they gave me. I don’t remember names but if I did I would thank each and every one of them. I won’t forget how they took care of me and did what they could to make sure I was comfortable. From that experience I see nurses as angels! I am proud to work for Kaiser Permanente and since working here I have myself gone back to school in my late 30s to pursue a degree in Dietetics to give back and be of service to others. Those nurses really inspired and they didn’t even know it!

  5. Philip Vardara, RN

    Great and inspirational story! Thank you, David, for taking your personal experience and using it to transform the experience of others!

  6. Thank you for sharing this information. I am curious to know about his journey from patient to nurse – going back to school – nursing school – as an adult or metriculating student – and then – getting his job at KP. That must be some story too!

  7. Marion Ambrose

    David: Kaiser Permanente is so blessed to have an employee like you. I work in the rehabilitation department at Kaiser Permanente Vallejo where we see a lot of stroke patients and others who have suffered a number of conditions. Last weekend, our local chapter of the Association of Rehabilitation Nurses just had our annual nursing education conference here at our facility and we sure could have used you. It was on “Rehabilitation Nursing: No Boundaries.” We had people just like you who had a disability and adapted/recovered and how it changed their life. Your story is great. So very happy for you.

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