Max Silver-Alford has been around.
Born in Oklahoma, Silver-Alford moved to Knoxville as a child before heading to Maryland for college, earning a degree in public and environmental health from the University of Maryland. After his now-fiancée was accepted into a graduate program at East Tennessee State University, Silver-Alford found himself moving back to East Tennessee to begin the next chapter of his life.
After struggling to find a job in public health, Silver-Alford joined Ballad Health as a certified nursing assistant last year, and is pursuing a nursing degree at ETSU as well.
On Friday, the Press spoke with Silver-Alford about his thoughts on Johnson City, his interest in healthcare and his work.
Hobby: Cooking, particularly spaghetti
Fav. Restaurant: Cootie Browns
Cats or dogs: “Dogs, I’m allergic to cats”
Pet peeves: Leaving lights on
Favorite podcast: “The Daily” by the New York Times and sports podcasts
How are you liking the area so far?
When I first moved down here from the Maryland-Washington, D.C., area, I was unsure if I was really going to love it, but the longer I’ve been here the more it’s grown on me and I really appreciate it. Some of my hobbies on top of cooking include outdoor stuff, and just having the access to mountains and stuff like that is something I love about this place. It’s so beautiful and quiet and I always thought I was going to be more of a city person, but this has really grown on me.
How did you get interested in healthcare?
I guess it kind of goes back to my interest in science in general. I’ve always been interested in science, the human body, the natural world, etc. I chose biology at first and pre-med in college and stuff like that, and I just think the human body is so complex and interesting, and then nursing just adds such a human-interaction and lived experience aspect to that kind of hard science. I think it’s really an interesting field to be in.
I’ve always been interested in helping people and doing good. I thought I could make a big difference in the world by doing something with public health — making some big change that would make the world a better place. Nursing is kind of a way to do that one person at a time, and I can still have that kind of impact outside of work.
What does a typical day look like for you?
A typical shift is 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., luckily I live about walking distance to the hospital so I get to sleep in until the last minute. The beginning of the day is pretty much getting acclimated with the patients and getting my report from the previous shift. Then, the day kind of goes back and forth between checking vital signs, helping them with activities of daily living — mostly hygiene related like bathing or brushing their teeth, and stuff like eating or walking down the halls. Pretty much, I do a lot of preventative health measures. Every four hours, I’m going through these cycles of checking vitals and helping people with their needs, and sort of scattered throughout the day helping people with their call light.
What’s your favorite part of your work?
Probably just getting to know people. I think it’s a lot of hard work, and I don’t love waking up early in the morning, but I think seeing people at low points in their life and getting to know them and being a source of strength and help for them in their time of need is very meaningful.
What drives you to help people?
This is more of a grander philosophical outlook on it, but in terms of the meaning of life and stuff like that — finding some sort of purpose through connection and making the world a better place I feel like explains my outlook on life. Helping people, making connections with patients helps give my life some purpose and meaning and is very fulfilling.
I’ve also had positive influences on my life, both of my parents are teachers, and it’s similar goals: Making the world a better place.