Terry Rose '72

Finding a New Passion for Nursing


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Terry Rose ’72 has never been afraid to make a career change.

Graduating from Notre Dame with a bachelor's degree in economics and then earning a master's in finance at Boston University, Rose began his professional career selling export credit insurance for 20 years. However, he made his first career shift when he decided to go back to school and earn a law degree from Brooklyn Law School, which led to a role as chief operations officer at a reinsurance company where he stayed for seven years.

Despite the change, Rose still felt that something in his professional life was missing. He left the company and became a manager at a financial consulting firm, holding the position for 13 years. Each of these pivots taught him that in the end, he was seeking a role that focused more on helping others.

“I decided that, let me try something where I can just directly impact people's lives,” Rose said. While his professional career up until that point had been focused in the business world, his family had roots in the medical field. Rose’s late mother was a nurse — “and proud of it all her life,” Rose said. Two of his four daughters, Mary and Georgia, also became nurses.

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Rose with his wife, children, and their spouses celebrating the baptism of his grandson, Caleb.

In 2016, then, at the age of 66, Rose made his biggest career shift yet: becoming an emergency medical technician.

While riding in an ambulance in Springfield, New Jersey on one of his first calls, Rose knew this role felt right — so much so that he felt called to pursue a career in healthcare more seriously.

It’s safe to say Rose was not a typical nursing student. It had been decades since he had been in a college classroom. His children (Georgia, Mary, Christy, Elaine ’14, Conor, and Edward) had long moved away from their childhood home, leaving him and his wife, Jean, as empty-nesters. Despite the challenges of becoming a student again, Rose stuck with it — not only gaining the experience he needed, but finding joy in the journey as well.

“I was with a bunch of young people and they were really great. And the reason I think that's so important is I'm not sure I would be so great,” Rose said. “I was this old fart, you know, taking classes with [them] and everything. But I had a lot of good friendships with a lot of great young people.”

Those relationships helped Rose through the difficult and intricate coursework needed to earn his nursing degree. Courses took him through multiple medical scenarios, from ICU to medical surgery to treating psychiatric patients. As time progressed, Rose began medical rotations in hospitals. The work wasn’t exactly glamorous — think taking bloodwork, testing vital signs, and sending urine samples. But by 2019, Rose was officially working in the nursing field.

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Rose reading to his grandsons, Hank and Walker.

That, of course, meant he was working in the field during 2020, a complicated time in the medical world, to say the least. Rose contracted COVID-19 that spring, although a 17-day fever was the extent of his symptoms. Clara Maass Hospital in Belleville, New Jersey, where Rose works, set up tents outside their building to attend to symptomatic patients. For Rose, the way his hospital went to great lengths during the pandemic added an extra jolt to the significance of his new line of work.

“One thing that occurred to me was how fortunate I've been in my life, and it made me very grateful because [Clara Maass is] not inner- city, but it's not suburban either, sort of in the middle and you just have a lot of people who have a lot of issues going on,” Rose said. “To confront some of these things … it sort of woke me up a little bit.”

It helped that Rose had plenty of support at home. Family played a huge role in Rose’s decision to make such a big professional leap later in life.

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Rose with his wife, Jean, on vacation in Delaware.

“They were excited and very, very supportive. But I have to say my wife was just super about everything,” Rose said. “It was a part of me that she was giving up basically and she was very supportive. And I couldn't have done it if I didn't have that support.”

Trusting in one’s family reminded Rose of what his time at Notre Dame instilled in him. Without the consistent community of support, he might not have tried to attempt something new. Though it took several career changes and quite some time before he would become a nurse, Rose is certain that the leap stems from Notre Dame’s mission of serving others in need.

“You can [have] family that is broader than just your immediate family,” Rose said. “But I think [Notre Dame’s] name is very strong on using your gifts to give to others, in other words, service, and also that with hard work, you can create great things … [and] try to save something bigger for the community. So I’m hoping that example can sort of give my kids and others an example that they can look up to.”