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Life as a nurse takes a high level of skill, dedication and love of your community. Carl Delica, RN at Harborview Medical Center, embodies these qualities inside — and outside — the hospital walls.

In addition to his time in medical surgical specialties and studying to get his Doctor of Nursing Practice, Delica brings his focus and positive energy to the water as a competitive paddleboarder through competitions like a recent 70-mile paddle from Tacoma to Port Townsend in June. 

As Delica tells it, this is how his life in medicine intersects with his passion for paddleboarding.

I’ve been a nurse for over 11 years, and six of them have been at Harborview. I started working in a skilled nursing facility, did inpatient detox and rehab, and ended up at Harborview. I work on 5 East in medical-surgery telemetry, and I learn something new every day I’m there. My work as a second-year Doctor of Nursing Practice student keeps me busy, too.

I enjoy working in a place where we value patients and staff. Working in an academic setting is rewarding since you get to work with residents and teach them about patient care while they teach you about disease management. It’s a team-oriented place where your input as a nurse is valued and appreciated. Working at Harborview, we get a lot of interesting cases and complex medical patients.

A passion for paddleboarding

I took up paddleboarding during the COVID-19 pandemic. I had been injured in a ski accident and was restricted in my activities, and paddleboarding was a low-impact activity that was perfect for healing. Getting to the water is much quicker than driving to the mountains to go hiking. Once I got stronger on the paddleboard, I joined the Monday night summer races at the Ballard Elks, and I fell in love with paddleboarding. 

Carl Delica RN

The intersection of nursing and paddleboarding 

Paddleboarding is a great outlet for the stress of being a nurse and a student. I get to enjoy nature and the ocean, and there is also the social community I’ve made with friends. 

Also, because paddleboarding is a water sport, it lends itself to going with the flow. You can’t face the water directly, but you learn how to work with it and use it to your advantage. You learn to be like water, which carries over to nursing as you have to go with the patient on their journey to healing.

Regarding work-life balance, I try to fit paddleboarding into my schedule when I can. Being a full-time student and working part-time is hard. What’s even harder than that is not taking care of yourself. I prioritize my physical activity as that leads me to be a better student and nurse. You can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself first.

Carl Delica RN

A peek into his paddleboarding practice

A big win for me this year is learning how to downwind. Downwinding is the marriage of surfing and standup, where you surf the waves created by wind swell from point A to point B. I learned this skill last September in Hood River, OR, and have been getting out every week. I’ve been able to do downwind runs that range from 12-20 miles with 20-40 MPH winds, and I get better every time. 

Earlier this month, I attended the Gorge Downwind Champs competition in Stevenson, WA, and received first place in my division. At the end of July, I’m competing in the Gorge Paddle Challenge in Hood River, OR, and I’m doing a 16-mile virtual race from Molokai to Oahu in August.

Carl Delica RN

Editor’s note: Responses were lightly edited for length, clarity and style.