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Patrick  Hickey

Patrick Hickey

First Nurse to Climb Seven Summits of the World

Patrick Hickey

First Nurse to Climb Seven Summits of the World


Patrick Hickey is a clinical assistant professor in the College of Nursing at the University of South Carolina and is the new faculty principal for the Capstone Scholars Program at USC in Columbia, South Carolina. He has dedicated his 33 years of nursing to creating positive experiences for patients and their families, tirelessly advocating for safe, efficient, and quality nursing care. Hickey gained national fame by literally taking his passion to new heights, climbing all of the world’s highest peaks. He uses this extraordinary achievement to inspire other healthcare professionals to overcome challenges and chase personal and professional dreams.

Hickey started climbing the world’s highest mountains in 2001 as a personal challenge and turned that quest into a larger mission in 2005. He created the University of South Carolina’s College of Nursing Summit Scholarship fund, with the goal of raising $1 for every foot of altitude he climbed on Everest. Hickey completed the Seven Summits of the World on May 24, 2007, when he stood atop Mt. Everest. He became the first nurse in the world, and one of only 120 people ever, to complete this “holy grail of mountaineering.” He has been described by the press as a cross between Florence Nightingale and Indiana Jones.”

Hickey is the author of 7 Summits: A Nurse’s Quest to Conquer Mountaineering and Life, which tells the story of how hard work, persistence, self-confidence, and the support of family and friends can help anyone reach the top of the world. The book explores the broader perspectives of goal setting, motivation, dedication, and pursuing challenges in the face of extreme adversity. Known for his informing, motivating keynotes, Hickey connects with and inspires audiences in industries ranging from healthcare to business.

Gaining a foundation in nursing through his work as a medical surgical nurse, Hickey progressed to work as a staff nurse in a coronary care unit and soon afterwards became nurse manager in the emergency department of a level one trauma center. He next transitioned to the operating room setting, progressing from a staff nurse to assistant nurse manager, and then educator. A departure from the operating room resulted in a position as director of performance improvement and eventually risk manager. Hickey used these latter roles to implement patient safety measures that saved innumerable lives.

Hickey has been very involved in his nursing profession as a contributing member on a variety of professional organizations. He has been very active in the perioperative nursing community at the local, state, and national level and served as a national board member for the Association of PeriOperative Registered Nurses. Additionally, he has been involved with the South Carolina Nurses Association on a variety of committees and has been a member of the American Nurses Association, Hispanic Nurses Association, Transcultural Nurses Association, and American Public Health Association. Hickey has volunteered his professional time as a member of the SC State Board of Nursing’s Investigative Review Committee as well as the Panel Hearing Committee. These roles have kept Hickey informed on the current challenges that nurses experience in their professional careers.

Hickey has contributed to the local community through service on numerous boards, including the South Carolina Hispanic Health Coalition, Hispanic Outreach, Partners of the Americas, and the South Carolina Association of Hospital Risk Managers. He has been a member of the South Carolina Rural Health Association, the SC World Affairs Council, and most recently, a Steward for the United Way.

Honored for his dedicated service to the nursing profession, Hickey has been recognized as one of the Palmetto State’s Top 100 Nurses. He also earned the Palmetto Gold Award in 2002, South Carolina Partners of the Americas Volunteer of the Year Award in 2004, and the South Carolina Nurses Association Presidents Award for Service in 2007 and 2008.

Hickey acquired his diploma in nursing at St. Lawrence College in Brockville, Ontario; his Baccalaureate in nursing at Corpus Christi State University in Corpus Christi, Texas; and his MS in health education, MS in nursing, and doctorate in public health at the University of South Carolina.

Hickey is an avid adventurer in his spare time, enjoying camping, hiking, and travel. Together, he and his wife have explored 57 countries around the world.

Speaker Videos

Future of Nursing

The Top of the World

Nascar Talk on ESPN

Speech Topics

Seven Summits of Life

In “7 Summits of Life,” Patrick Hickey says we all have the potential to do anything we want to do.  Basing his presentation on his experience as the first nurse to climb the Seven Summits of the World, he emphasizes that those having reached the top have a responsibility to encourage others to tap into their potential so that they too may reach the top in their lives and their careers.

Self Care: Improving Our Lives for a Healthier Tomorrow

Surviving High Mountains & Dealing with Life’s Adversity: A Nurse’s Quest to Complete the Seven Summits of the World

Nurses: Caring for Yourself Today for a Healthier Tomorrow


Books & Media


7 Summits