How to succeed in healthcare? Wali shares his words of wisdom about that and how to be a better human.

Wali is a trauma nurse working in the heart of the west side in Chicago. He never thought he would be where he is at right now. He got into nursing five years ago. As a staff nurse eight months into his career, he experienced burnout and did not enjoy that role. He found out about this trauma ICU role that had active resuscitation, which was the role in healthcare that lit Wali up. Wali describes that he has loved nothing more than where he’s at right now with this role at work.

Trauma work is complex beyond gunshots and wounds- the complexity of care for trauma nurses is pivotal in delivering care to their patients, and is often misunderstood by those outside in healthcare.

Wali is also a free-lance writer for He speaks at conferences and loves to convey his message to other nurses about how to be the best healthcare professional they can be, even beyond the clock.

Takeaways from our conversation on the podcast about how to succeed in healthcare and many more words of wisdom:

wali khan advice healthcare nurses nursing burnt out to lit up


Wali recalls advice he received from a nurse he was observing in the cath lab: “Be the nurse that you want to work with.”  Wali offers his advice around how to succeed in healthcare :

  • Know yourself and who you are as an individual. Wali describes that how you are at work is generally a reflection of how you are outside of work during our interview. Nursing is not an individual workforce- you come to work and you have a team. Know what setting would be best for you based on your personality; for example, if you don’t like to take orders, making working in a clinic would be a better option instead of working on a hospital floor.
  • Find your passion and purpose. Purpose is something that you do or believe in that helps you realize that you are living your life to your fullest and to your maximum potential. Purpose begins with introspection and fixing your mindset around your work before you even get to work.

“Be the nurse that you want to work with.”

Wali Khan, RN BSN


Social media is a double edged sword. You can be the worst person in the world, but you can put on a facade on social media. “A man can’t exist with two hearts in his chest” is a lesson Wali learned from one of his spiritual teachers. You can put on a mask and disguise who you are, but ultimately you have to go to sleep with yourself at night.

Wali has been through his fair share of adversities that he dives into during our interview. He went from competing on stages for bodybuilding to severely hurting his back and could barely walk to undergoing surgery. He went through a divorce and also failed the NCLEX three times (exam for nurses), and describes that as being the most demoralized he had ever felt. Wali hit the lowest point and experienced his first death at work (during the first day of orientation as a new grad). To process everything, Wali began writing about his emotions and experiences on social media.

The more he wrote, the more he realized that so many people are hurting. He learned that writing about the human experience along with his experience being a trauma nurse that he can connect with people. He shares that his faith played a critical role in navigating these adversities.

wali khan advice healthcare nurses nursing burnt out to lit up

Getting back to social media, Wali has noticed that some healthcare professionals using social media will take a picture of them doing something completely unrelated to their work and post a caption about ME ME ME- there’s this discrepancy between what people are claiming to be and who they really are. Wali argues that we have a duty to use social media to go beyond posting about our iced coffee. If you have a platform and if the only echoes of your account are of you and your name and how wonderful you are, then you are really voiceless.

Wali uses his platform to give a voice to the people suffering in the world that don’t have a voice. He is not telling you how to post or live your life, but he believes that his ‘why’ on social media is to impact the world. 


Wali describes the realities of Islamophobia in our country. His job as a practitioner and Muslim is to provide a narrative as a Muslim nurse, brother, son, husband, and citizen in this country. He will not belittle his faith, beliefs, and traditions because of the limiting understanding that people have about Islam. 

Wali goes into detail during our interview about his passion and duty to help people, no matter where they come from, their color, race, etc. He describes how Islam stands for peace. His faith is a reflection of who he is on a person. He tries to be a living, breathing example of what he’s learned and what he’s been taught through his faith.

“When we really spend some time getting to know one another, we really truly realize how similar, synergistically beautiful we are as a community.”

Wali Khan, RN BSN


When it comes to how to succeed in healthcare and going through difficult times, we can either be like eggs, carrots, or coffee beans.

If you take a carrot which is hard and put it in hot water, it becomes soft. Don’t be soft- remain firm during a hard time. Don’t let yourself lose yourself- remain grounded during difficult times.

An egg is fragile and brittle- if you put it in hot water, it becomes rough. Don’t be rough during hard times, but rather be gentle. You know the phrase ‘hurt people hurt people?’ Don’t hurt others.

Be like coffee beans, because coffee beans turn water into coffee. Don’t let hard times change you or break you. Rather, face your tribulations with grace and a spirit that is unwavering despite your situation.


If you’re not courageous to believe in your own story, no one will believe you until you believe in yourself. No one is going to come and hand you a glass of courage. A great lesson for healthcare professionals and all humans alike: Courage is not inherited. Courage is learned.

It’s going from rejection to rejection and never giving up. Every day, Wali faces trials and tribulations. People may dislike him for his faith, for the fact that he stands up for people that are oppressed. He recognizes that if he does not stand firmly in his beliefs and remains grounded, he will not have the power to guide others.

Wali’s last words of advice in our interview: people never get poor by giving. Be a person of gratitude and service. Giving doesn’t make you poor; it only enriches you. The hand that gives is better than the hand that receives, Wali tells me. When you give, you live a fulfilled life because you realize how much you have, which drastically improves the quality of your life.

As healthcare professionals, we do give our time, skills, and effort to our patients. To succeed in healthcare, we remember to practice what we preach. How can we give a little bit more next time? How can we give to others in the world? Challenge yourself to be courageous and give more.

Connect with Wali:

Instagram: @Wali_Khann

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Categories: BOLU Podcast


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