Brian Paonessa has always been fueled by a yearning to make a difference. Originally working in the fitness industry, Paonessa helped his clients transform into their healthiest selves but always felt like he was destined for something more. He states, “I heard a whisper that told me the time to make it happen was now, so I went after it.” Although he worked in gyms and wellness centers in some of New York’s most notable neighborhoods, he wanted to take the next step in the health field and go down the path of becoming a nurse.
After registering for classes at Trocaire College in Buffalo, Paonessa returned to his hometown of Niagara, NY, to take the first step in what would be the most important journey of his career: finding Fit Functional Nurses (FFN). “I made the switch, took that leap of faith, and went with it,” says Paonessa.
Nursing School Trails
Paonessa’s time in nursing school was met with many trials and tribulations, but he was determined to push through. He worked three jobs on top of his educational obligations, teaching a fitness/spinning class at 5 am before classes and working for his friend’s snow plowing business. “I learned to become comfortable in uncomfortable situations,” Paonessa states. He completed his nursing studies and got a job with Las Vegas’s Mountain View Hospital two weeks after graduating.
Paonessa always strived to be the best he could possibly be, but throughout the process he realized he would feel extremely burnt out. “As a nurse, you put so much into caring for your patients and their families that you stop thinking about yourself.” He goes on to say, “By the time you leave—or do six or seven days in a row—you’re done.” Nurses, especially during this time of COVID, were working double (and sometimes triple) shifts. They are extremely fatigued, and this motivated Paonessa to start his new initiative, Fit Functional Nurses (FFN).
Fit Functional Nurses
Fit Functional Nurses (FFN) is dedicated to giving back to front-line workers, the people who dedicate their lives to others before themselves. Paonessa hopes a little recognition, appreciation, and experiences outside the workplace will help balance the ever-growing number of burnt-out nurses.
FFN offers incentive programs, such as restaurant and hotel discounts, designed to enrich a nurse’s lifestyle and overall well-being for the care, dedication, and compassion they provide to others. “One of the many goals of FFN is to help other nurses realize the need to create a solid work-life balance,” The New York native states.
“With FFN, I want to create unity and bonds between nurses that are similar to those formed by soldiers or people who were in the U.S. Marines.” Paonessa explains, “While we don’t know each other, we can connect on so many different levels because we understand what the other person went through and what was taught to us.”
He states that he wants to take FFN everywhere. “Nurses are the heartbeats of every hospital—they make or break the entire hospital experience,” Paonessa says. “FFN will put nurses on the map by shining a light on what they do and how they give back.” ffnworld.com