When Brody Tritle starts playing music, whether it’s singing with his guitar or tapping the keys of one of Story Senior Care’s pianos, the long-term care residents gather around him, hoping to hear more.

Tritle, just 18, is one of Story Senior Care’s youngest employees. He offers residents the gifts of not only music, but a host of other wonderful attributes that he brings to his job in Nevada.

With the long-term goal of becoming a surgeon, Tritle said his work for Story Medical is very important because of what it’s teaching him now, and how that will impact his future.

Tritle is classified as a CNA — certified nursing assistant — which is basically the entry point for working in health care.

“(Being a CNA) it’s really getting into the physical labor,” he said. He spends time on every shift checking and changing residents, helping them use the facilities, helping dress them, helping them exercise, getting to know them and more. “I’m making sure they’re comfortable and happy,” he said, his caring and delightful disposition showing through as he speaks.

Someone once told Tritle, “the best surgeons start out as CNAs, because they know what it’s like to be at the bottom,” and that’s the overall health care experience he wants to have, he said.

Looking back, Tritle, who grew up and still lives in Ames with his parents, Kat and Steve Tritle, has always wanted to be a doctor. But for awhile, the homeschooled youth who is technically now a high school senior, but got into college classes early with DMACC’s CNA program last year and is this year taking courses at Iowa State University, said he also thought maybe a future in music, as a band director, would be a good choice.

Tritle has played piano the longest, and later he added guitar and drums to his repertoire. He has been playing in a band, which for the past year has called itself ENVI, and he said he loves writing songs with his guitar — not based on his own experiences, but rather on experiences he creates that inspire people.

With his thoughts more on music than medical, he had a life-changing experience as a freshman while visiting the Mall of America. He was sitting in the food court, eating, when a man standing right next to his table and right next to him collapsed and was having a seizure.

“I totally froze and didn’t know what to do,” Tritle said. But he watched everything up close as people responded to the man.

“I was fascinated by the whole situation; it was all so new to me. I wanted to help, but I didn’t know how,” he said. That experience pulled him back to his original career thoughts on being a doctor. He wanted to be someone who knew how to help others.

Being a surgeon, specifically an orthopedic surgeon, is where he feels he’s headed. As a CNA student, he presented on the topic of total knee replacement and found it interesting, so he thinks orthopedics is the way for him to go and where he can do the most good.

But for right now, his most important work is at Story Senior Care in Nevada. “I started there in mid-October of last year,” he said, after finishing with DMACC’s CNA program, which he said was recommended to him as a good health care educational starting place. After going through DMACC’s program, he agrees. “They have a fantastic program,” he said.

He plans to work at Story Senior Care for as long as he’s a student at ISU, where he’s majoring in psychology with a minor in philosophy. He chose this major and minor as a way to set himself apart, something he feels is important for his eventual applications into med school. While at ISU he also has to take a number of courses that will be required for him to get into med school, he explained. He said he doesn’t know yet what med schools he’ll apply to.

Tritle loves his work at Story Senior Care for the relationships he’s forming with residents, the ones he’s made with co-workers and the experiences one gets from being “on the job.” He has also gotten great work experience and formed good relationships with co-workers at his other job, being a cashier at Kohl’s in Ames.

This summer, Tritle expects to do one more thing to help set himself apart from others. He plans to take a one-month study program in Exeter, England, learning about behavioral analysis.

While he’s gone, it’s likely the residents at Story Senior Care will miss him, his caring personality and certainly his music.

“I absolutely love music. For me it’s always been my way of expressing myself,” Tritle said. He believes music will always be an important part of who he is as a person and as a health care professional.

“Music is a universal language, and I’ve seen that here (at Senior Care). When you are singing along, and older people, even a person with Alzheimer’s, are all singing along … you realize that music will always be important.” Much as his hands will do in surgeries, music too, he agreed, brings people together. It is a great connector.