Nicole Lucas and Ryan Chmiola
August 14, 2021, in Philadelphia
Their first interaction was caring for a trauma patient at Hahnemann Hospital. It was July 2017, and Nicole, a doctor, was just starting her emergency medicine internship. Ryan was already an experienced emergency nurse.
As part of her training, Nicole would develop a care plan for her patients, which the attending physician would review before implementing it. Ryan was always happy to help other caregivers and began reviewing her care plans before she submitted them, pointing out when a different dosage might be better or when lab tests were ordered out of sequence.
This less urgent moment together made room for snippets of personal conversation, which revealed a mutual passion for professional football – Ryan loves the Eagles, just like Nicole – except when they play against the Steelers.
One evening, as they were dating after a late shift, Nicole took the first step: âWe should have a drink and watch a game together,â she said.
Ryan didn’t see this piece coming. “Yes of course?” he said with a questioning inflection.
Nicole took this as a sweet rejection and was so happy that she waited to ask just before she left Hahnemann for her next internship at St. Christopher.
Ryan was actually interested in Nicole, but had yet to decide whether to continue. He regretted almost immediately that he hadn’t given her a decisive yes.
âI thought of her all the time when she was gone,â he said. “I was waiting for her – I knew she was coming back to Hahnemann.”
She returned two months later and was working with Ryan on one of her first shifts.
Oh my God, this is going to be awkward, she thought. “I hope no one will find out.”
At the end of their shift, Ryan asked Nicole what she was doing this weekend.
âDrink beer and watch the Steeler game,â she said.
“Can I reach you?” He asked.
Two nights later, they met at Monks’ house for a happy hour. Ryan was wondering if he should have suggested a cocktail bar instead when Nicole asked their waiter to bring her favorite sour from the current draft list. âShe was going to be more interesting than I thought, and more of a character,â he said.
Ryan exceeded Nicole’s expectations for the first date when he ordered mussels instead of the more typical wings. She loved that it was so comfortable to share appetizers.
âWe haven’t gone a day without at least talking to each other since then,â Ryan said. But they kept their growing relationship a secret from their colleagues for about a year. âThere is a lot of drama in the ER and we didn’t want to add any more,â Nicole said.
Soon they were working in opposing shifts, spending time together at a Starbucks not frequented by Hahnemann employees. In the summer of 2018, they took a trip to Portland, Seattle, the Hoh Rainforest and Astoria, which confirmed that they still love each other after spending several days in the same space. Back home, they spoke to their colleagues about their relationship.
âI like that she makes decisions and sticks to them, because I don’t,â Ryan said. “I love that she really cares about things even when a lot of people don’t care, that she’s extremely detail-oriented and loves my cooking.”
Nicole said the other side of attention to detail is being anxious, and Ryan is her antidote. “He is able to calm me down like no one else I have ever met before,” she said. âHe has a way of making me breathe deeply, taking a step back and focusing on the things that matter most. He can make me laugh even when I’m not in the mood to laugh. And he takes care of me, including making my lunches when I don’t have time.
Ryan and Nicole celebrated when she was named Chief Resident at the end of her second of three years on the program. The couple moved into an apartment across from their hospital together. Then their hospital closed. They lost their jobs and what seemed like family to them too.
Neither Ryan, who is now 35 and raised between Wilkes-Barre and Scranton, nor Nicole, who is 30 and raised in Elkins Park, wanted to leave Philadelphia. But Nicole was an orphan – the term used to describe program residents whose hospitals are closing. She needed to find another hospital that was ready to allow her to end where she left off, otherwise she would have to start over. “If we have to move across the country, so be it,” Ryan assured him.
Nicole knew then that they would build a life together.
To their delight, it’s a life still anchored in Philly. Nicole and her work on Hahnemann were accepted by Temple University Hospital, where she is now an emergency physician. After working briefly at another local hospital, Ryan became a registered nurse in the Temple emergency room. Once it was clear they could stay here, the couple bought a house in Roxborough together, where they live with their black lab, Bunk.
Nicole finished her residency at the end of June 2020. “Things with the pandemic were going in the right direction then, so we were finally able to sit outside in a restaurant,” recalls Ryan. At Tria on 12th Street, âwe had a great time sitting, chatting and remembering,â said Nicole.
Back home, the couple put on their pajamas and Nicole pulled out her popcorn machine on the stove.
Ryan had bought a ring several months before, but then it was, “making popcorn on the stove after such a normal and enjoyable day, it was a good time to ask her,” he said. declared.
He spoke his name in such a deep voice that Nicole stopped turning the handle that keeps the beans moving.
âI turned around and he was there with the ring,â she said. âI almost burnt the popcorn. But then I turned off the burner, turned to him and said yes.
The couple got married at the Academy of Music. âIt was the first time that everyone from Hahnemann had been back in the same room together,â Nicole said. Masks were worn and, as most of their 120 guests were either health workers or very close to one, the vaccination rate was extremely high.
The ceremony took place in the dramatic and elegant ballroom on the second floor. The couple wrote their own vows in which they vowed to always communicate how they felt, even when they didn’t feel like it. Nicole also promised Ryan that she would continue to embrace her love of solo ski trips, and he vowed to always make sure she uses the crosswalk.
Their reception included lots of dancing, a crab cake and filet dinner, and a bunch of local beers.
Misconduct The tavern, where the after party was held, required proof of vaccination.
Nicole sees Ryan every day, and she even knew roughly what her tuxedo looked like, so she wasn’t expecting the emotion that hit her as she walked down the aisle. âSeeing him standing at the altar was a really big deal,â she said.
After the ceremony, the newlyweds walked up the aisle, but stopped halfway and kissed a second time. âIt was like we were now husband and wife, and it was a really exciting time,â Ryan said. “All the nervousness leading up to the wedding was gone and we were really, really happy.”
They spent their honeymoon in the Catskills.
In June 2022, Nicole will complete her two-year scholarship in Emergency Administration and Operations, which includes an MBA, from the Fox School of Business. She hopes to become an emergency administrator while continuing to work in emergency medicine. Ryan is also considering earning an MBA, which will allow him to take on a leadership role in nursing. They hope to stay in Philadelphia.