About Matthew Hickling
Matthew Hickling laughs when he remembers starting his pediatric class as a nursing student at Russell Sage College.
“I said, there’s no chance I’m going to be a pediatric nurse. I’m never going to want to do this,” he said.
But before he knew it, he was starting his career in a pediatric intensive care unit, then working at Albany Medical Center’s Melodies Center for Childhood Cancer.
Once he became a nurse practitioner, he joined a practice specializing in developmental pediatrics, and in summer 2022, he will begin a position overseeing health services for a local school district.
In some ways, his story is symbolic of the nursing profession, he said, where almost every day brings something he didn’t expect.
“I tell my students, you’ve got to do the thing that terrifies you,” Matt continued (he is also an adjunct nursing instructor and a preceptor for students in clinical experiences.) “You can really expand the knowledge base, your role in the community and your career.”
He has found that to be especially true in his work in developmental pediatrics.
The demand is so great that practitioners in Albany see patients — kids experiencing conditions from autism to Down syndrome, speech or motor delays and more — from three hours away.
“It can be emotional, it can be draining, but it also can be really rewarding,” he said, “knowing that you helped a family in an area where they found brick walls and limited answers before.”
This work has led to opportunities to present at national conferences, as well as to local parent groups.
And when he joins the school district, one of his priorities is to work with psychologists, social workers and other professionals to help identify and diagnose students with developmental challenges and provide them with interventions and support faster.
Matt already held a bachelor’s degree in sports management when he decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree in nursing at Sage.
He was president of Sage’s Student Nurses Association and formed close relationships with his professors — he remains in touch with several of them.
“They were fantastic, in the sense of where they pushed you,” he said.
Nursing Professor and Department Chair Glenda Kelman, for example, encouraged him to get involved in professional and community service.
Today, Matt is active with The Center for Nursing at the Foundation of New York State Nurses, Inc., and is on the advisory boards for educational and community programs, including Bring on the Spectrum community space and sensory gym.
Another former professor connected him with his adjunct teaching role — one more unanticipated opportunity that he’s come to really enjoy.
“This is exactly what I want to do,” he admits now, of his career in pediatrics.
“I’m able to be involved with families, and able to educate future nurses and help them learn and grow in the field.”