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Compassion comes naturally for patient transporter Tyler

Mar. 9, 2017, 10:33 AM

Editor’s note —
This is the first in a series of profiles on some of Vanderbilt’s most dedicated employees. All VUMC staff and faculty are encouraged to attend Celebrate — The difference YOU make every day on April 20 or 21 at Vanderbilt’s Memorial Gymnasium. Please sign up for one of three sessions at

If you’re a patient of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) Gastrointestinal Endoscopy Lab on the first floor of The Vanderbilt Clinic, chances are you’ve encountered Bruce Tyler’s gleaming bald head and reassuring smile.

Patient transporter Bruce Tyler, here helping patient Arthur White, is known for his kindness and commitment and is beloved by the people he works with. (photo by Daniel Dubois)

And chances are, if you come back, you’ll ask for him by name.

Tyler, 49, a clinic patient transporter for more than five years, embodies the VUMC Credo Behaviors, especially, “We treat others as we wish to be treated.”

Patients often write to VUMC about Tyler. One patient said, “Bruce is compassionate and kind, a man who makes you feel comfortable and relaxed.”

He regards the patients he transports — sometimes as many as 80 a day — like family. Patients checking in to the GI Endoscopy Clinic are having procedures such as colonoscopies or endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatographies (ERCP), which use dye to highlight the bile ducts on X-ray images. Some will leave reassured. Some will leave with bad news.

“You want to treat them like they’re your family member or like you want one of your family members to be treated,” Tyler said. “I look at all the patients like they’re my mother, my father, my sister or brother, my grandmother or my grandfather.”

On a Monday morning, shortly after 7 a.m., Tyler greets a female patient in the Clinic’s check-in area with a smile. “OK, we’re gonna take a little walk down the hall,” Tyler says. “Is this your first time here? We’re gonna take care of you.”

Tyler said he hopes to make his patients feel “if this guy is feeling this good first thing in the morning, I’m quite sure everything else is going to be OK.”

He usually checks back in with the patients he has met earlier in the day, and lets them know he hopes everything went well.

Tyler’s supervisor, Mark Rogers, R.N., said he believes Tyler is “among the very best at Vanderbilt,” accomplishing the work of two or more people while somehow giving each patient and family member individual attention.

“The essence of Bruce’s character is how dedicated he is to the thoughtful and caring treatment of patients every single day he comes to work. Bruce gives his very best effort every day.”

Tyler, one of several patient transporters to and from the endoscopy lab, gets to work about 5:30 a.m., well before his shift begins at 7 a.m. He arrives early to help those in the endoscopy lab set up. He usually leaves for home after 5 p.m. “I’m happy coming here every day,” he says.

When he first came to VUMC 14 years ago, he worked in housekeeping and then the Operating Room. He is married and has five children ranging in age from 12 to 25. Tyler is active — walking and playing basketball when he’s not working. He and his family enjoy family time on weekends. They attend church on Sundays and love eating out after.

Tyler said he gains strength from many of the clinic’s repeat patients, and many just make him feel good. One frequent patient stops by to say hello even when she has an appointment in another area of the hospital.

“Even when I’m not here, she leaves me a note telling me she misses me and thanks me for all I’ve done for her. That makes me feel wonderful. Blessed.”

Tyler said that his favorite part of working at VUMC is knowing that he makes a difference in patients’ lives every day. He also feels a connection with each of his co-workers, from his fellow patient transporters to the nurses and physicians he encounters every day.

Tyler’s advice to other VUMC employees: Put yourself in others’ shoes, and keep in mind that every patient here has a story.

“When patients come in, some are nervous, some smiling. They have a lot going on. They don’t always share their stories, and you don’t ask, but there’s a reason they’re here.”

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