David Klimachefsky was a pastor at a church in Allentown, Pa., before joining the Decker School of Nursing in May 2011.
Photo by Jonathan Cohen
Commencement 2012 profile: David KlimachefskyTweet
Spending most of the past decade as a clergyman has helped David Klimachefsky prepare for his new career as a nurse.
“The pastoral role is not really that different (from nursing),” he said. “It’s a different focus: spiritual pain and spiritual need. But it’s still helping people in need. So even though this path seems very different on some levels, there is a central thread of caring for other people.”
Klimachefsky, a 34-year-old originally from Baldwinsville, will receive his bachelor’s in nursing as part of the Decker School of Nursing’s Baccalaureate Accelerated Track (BAT) Program for college graduates from fields other than nursing. As part of the program, Klimachefsky has taken 52 credits of nursing coursework since starting at Binghamton University last May.
“That’s a fast ride,” he said with a laugh. “It’s like trying to take a sip from a fire hydrant!”
Klimachefsky received his bachelor’s degree in psychology and social sciences from the University at Buffalo in 1999. He had already “shifted tracks” to religion prior to graduation and took a position as director of youth ministry at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Fulton, near Syracuse. Klimachefsky then attended Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, where he earned his master’s in pastoral ministry in 2006. After a couple of years teaching at Eastern University in Pennsylvania, Klimachefsky turned to the church again and became a pastor at The Barn, an arts-oriented church in Allentown, Pa.
“I’m a musician and I love the arts,” he said. “At least in the type of church I grew up in, there has been a massive divorce between anything artistic and faith.”
At The Barn, Klimachefsky was responsible for teaching, preaching and he even started a community arts studio. But by 2010, he knew his life’s work was not in the church.
“My ultimate goal was to combine my love of studying and my love of helping people,” he said.
A talk with his mother-in-law − a second-career nurse − “planted the seed” for his own nursing career, Klimachefsky said. He began considering nursing schools and Binghamton University and the Decker School of Nursing “rose to the top,” thanks to its value, location and reputation.
The transition to nursing school had one major challenge for Klimachefsky.
“I love to study, so the academics weren’t concerning,” he said. “What was concerning was the clinical component. I had never given anyone a shot! The clinical component was intense and I think any nursing student would tell you that. It’s a different world, but once you do it for a couple of weeks, you get right over it and it becomes second nature.”
Helping in the transition was the opportunity to work with faculty members such as clinical lecturer Alison Dura and clinical instructor Meg White.
“(Dura) represents a beautiful intersection of a great knowledge of the sciences and great nursing skills,” he said. “She is loved by students and is just a good person.
“(White) has so much knowledge and experience,” he added. “The thing I love about her is that she is so laid back. As student nurses, we’re jacked-up, type A. She brings an even keel to the process and helps students get through tough times and new situations.”
Both White and Dura agreed that Klimachefsky brings more than wisdom and maturity to the nursing profession.
“The kindness and compassion that he demonstrates in both patient care activities and collegial relationships is noteworthy,” White said. “He is a person who can enter a situation and make everyone else involved feel comfortable. That is an excellent skill to have anyway, but especially in situations where emotions can be raw, as often happens in healthcare settings.”
“He has shown that all of his previous learning and work experiences have a place in his new career,” Dura said. “Furthermore, he has nurtured both his patients as well as his classmates in numerous ways. His enthusiasm, critical analysis and joy in life are always evident.”
Klimachefsky said he considers it a privilege and an honor to be able to serve patients.
“Every moment that I enter the hospital, I have a chance to bring light and life and love to people – something that for me finds its source in God,” he said. “Sometimes in an emergency situation, it’s being able to hold somebody’s hand. It’s not like there is a dialogue about Jesus. It’s not theological: it’s about being present. And at other times, it’s about caring communication. For me, that is at the heart of faith.
“Every day is an opportunity for me to practice my faith in a very real way. This gives me a chance to interact with people in a way I never would have in the other profession.”
Klimachefsky will start work later this summer in a telemetry floor at UHS Wilson Medical Center in Johnson City, where he will assist patients with heart-related health issues. In the time between Commencement and the new job, Klimachefsky will renovate a house he recently bought in Vestal. He will live there with his wife and two daughters, ages 3 and 2.
“I’ll tackle the (nursing) field after a little bit of the dust has settled – literally and figuratively!”
Besides carpentry, Klimachefsky enjoys music and has spent many years performing and recording. He plays piano, guitar, bass guitar and drums, although he admitted that there has been little time for it in the past year.
“It’s truly been an intense road, but it’s been a great road,” he said. “Thankfully, all of the markers are saying not only is this the right career path for me, but this was the best place to do it. I am getting a great degree at a great price. I’m happy that I’m done, but I’m happy that I did here.”