Current Job: Psychiatric nurse-practitioner, Hampton Bays, NY
Previous Job: Buddist Monk
Private practice meant something very different to Chris Tower when he was a Buddhist monk known as Reverend Kinsei. Tower, who lived for 22 years in a California monastery, recently graduated as a nurse-practitioner and specialized in psychiatric care.
In 2003 Tower, the 52, left the life of a monk. Financial needs as well as his biology background motivated him to choose nursing. After nursing school, he landed a job at a hospital in Long Island, NY. But the job proved over-whelming. He also questions whether colleagues unconsciously overestimated his skills. “I think they tought I would be like a samurai, jumping around giving IVs from a distance. A lot of people have misconceptions about what it is to be a monk”.
He found a better fit at a rehab facility for substance abusers.”One of the things that they stressed in nursing school is, everybody can find their niche. I kept that in mind as kind of a mantra,” Tower says.
Tower often borrows from monastic training to calm anxious patients. At his abbey, he once served as guest master, something of a spiritual concierge. He asked his teacher for advice about managing less-enlightened guests.
Treat everybody like Buddha, his teacher said. “The important thing is to see everybody as Buddha, and that operates with my patients.”
By Davis Wallis
A freelance writer based in New York