It is no surprise that triplets Zach, Andrew, and Luke Horobin, ’23, share a resemblance and that they finish each other’s sentences, often speaking in “We’s” instead of “I’s,” but what’s not so common is that the trio of college juniors carpool from home to Southern Connecticut State University to attend the same classes in the same major – nursing – at a time when less than 15 percent of registered nurses in the United States are men (according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).
“In the past we have had many sets of twins [study at Southern] and choose nursing as a career,” said Maria Krol, associate professor and director, bachelor’s of science-nursing, Department of Nursing. “Having male triplets is a new thing for us and I am sure very rare in most programs. I think it is also good for young men in high school to hear this because while nursing is gaining in popularity, it is still dominated by women, and that deters some men.”
According to Krol, out of about 200 students who are currently enrolled in Southern’s traditional nursing program and taking nursing courses, 30 are men. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently reported that 12 percent of registered nurses are now men, up from 2.7 percent male RNs in 1970. In addition, the Accelerated BSN program currently has two cohorts, with 52 total students enrolled, and out of these students, seven are men.
For brother Luke, however, “It’s always been in our family.”
Their father is a firefighter and paramedic in Wallingford, their mother is a dental hygienist, and their grandfather was a firefighter in West Haven, so the brothers grew up listening to nonstop talk about “the calls.”
Their course was further cemented when Andrew and Luke became volunteer Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) and connected deeply with their CNA (certified nursing assistant) program as juniors at Wallingford’s Lyman Hall High School. (Zach learned about the CNA course from his brothers and took it senior year.)
High school CNA programs “give students the opportunity to see first-hand what it will take to be a nurse and exposes them to the important aspects of dealing with people when they are at their most vulnerable [sick],” Krol said. “It enables students like the Horobins to begin to develop therapeutic communication and become familiar with the medical terminology.”
According to Andrew, as EMTs, he and Luke also benefited from having very young role models.
“We saw that at an early age you could be well established, that you could be done with a degree and still be a volunteer firefighter,” Andrew said. “From an EMT perspective, you really can see a bigger picture. I like how quick thinking and different some situations are.”
The hands-on health care experiences, along with their practical work experience at a nursing home in Wallingford, led to one pursuit for the three: a nursing degree, which would enable them to combine their interest in health care with the satisfaction and pace of volunteer work, or perhaps additional degrees in administration or nursing education.
“Nursing is something new every time, not a desk job, it’s hands-on, and I can share shifts with nurses and firefighters,” Luke said. “And we always knew we wanted to go to Southern. We all wanted a flexible degree. We all knew about Southern’s nursing program, and it was by far the best orientation we went to [as high school seniors].”
Zach’s interest in nursing extends to other areas of specialty, like pediatrics or administration.
“I was always scared and hated going to the doctors when I was younger so I would like to be able to help those children who are scared like I was,” Zach said. “Labor and delivery also interest me if not pediatrics. The management side of nursing would be something I would do after I have been working for several years. To do a good job I think that you need experience before you can work your way up the ladder to a higher position. You need to know how things work before trying to tell people what to do.”
As for staying local, the brothers are content to call Connecticut home for a while longer.
“As of now I see myself staying local especially with so many great places to work as a nurse,” Zach said. “We have never really talked about working together, but I am sure that when we work we would run into each other from time to time. Since we all currently live at home, I think we will stay there until we graduate and will move out when we are each ready. None of us will be graduating with an excessive amount of student loans so paying these off as soon as possible would be a top priority for me. We all wanted a useful degree. No one can ever take it away.”
“It’s so interesting,” Andrew added. “This is exactly what we wanted to do.”