Leap of faith: From Broadway to nursing school

Nicholas Cayce spent more than 30 years on a stage or in a studio. On Dec. 9, he will graduate from UAB and begin his new career as a nurse.

Inside Nicholas CayceCayce during the Broadway national tour of "Elf" where he was a swing and dance captain.Nicholas Cayce is no stranger to performing under pressure. If anything, he thrives on it. From dance studios across Alabama to the bright lights of Broadway, Cayce has danced and acted on stages around the world.

On Dec. 9, he will walk across a new stage as he receives his Master of Science in Nursing degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Cayce, a native of Madison, Alabama, found his passion for dance when he began ballet at the age of 8. He attended the Alabama School of Fine Arts for high school and continued his training at the collegiate level, earning a degree in dance from Point Park University.

After graduation, he developed a passion for musical theater during his time as an actor and was a dancer on Royal Caribbean cruises. After five years performing his way through the seas, Cayce wanted to try his hand on land.

Cayce would spend the next eight years performing across the country. He was a swing and dance captain on the Broadway national tour of “Elf” in addition to performing in productions of “Cinderella,” “The Music Man” and the dance-heavy “Cats the Musical.” In 2019, Cayce was invited to help with the pre-production of the popular Broadway show “Beetlejuice” — a position his younger self would have dreamed of. However, the stage lights had started to dim for Cayce as he grew weary of the theater lifestyle.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Broadway turned into a ghost town.

“I didn’t know what to do, so I decided to come back to Alabama thinking it would be a short but needed break,” Cayce said. “I quickly realized that, as much as I loved the life of a performer, it was not fulfilling to me anymore. It was time for a change.”

The UAB Accelerated Master’s in Nursing Pathway is an entry-level nursing pathway for individuals with bachelor’s degrees or higher in a non-nursing field who desire a career change to nursing.

While Cayce dreamed of entertaining the masses, he also dreamed of taking care of them as a health care worker. As he watched thousands lose their lives to COVID-19, many within his theater community, he decided to take a leap of faith and applied to the UAB School of Nursing’s Accelerated Master’s in Nursing Pathway.

Cayce was accepted to the program, which allows those with bachelor’s degrees or higher in a non-nursing field to earn their nursing degree. The accelerated program was not a simple task for Cayce, now 35, who had been out of school for more than 10 years; but he felt his time on the stage helped him in the classroom.

“Swings were responsible for knowing multiple roles and recalling routines at the drop of a hat,” Cayce said. “As a swing, I was constantly taking notes and studying, trying to absorb and retain as much information as I could. The skills and habits I developed not only as a swing but throughout my dance career without a doubt helped me succeed in nursing school.”

Inside cayce 2Cayce will graduate from the UAB School of Nursing on Dec. 9, 2022.During clinical rotations, Cayce found a passion for pediatric nursing and will join the Children’s of Alabama team after graduation. He hopes to be a positive influence on pediatric patients, many of whom are facing a road of uncertainty.  

“Growing up as a male ballet dancer, I was faced with many obstacles; but I did not let that keep me from pursuing dreams,” Cayce said. “I hope I can show my patients that not all journeys are the same, and some journeys may take you all around the world; but it is important to believe in yourself and not let detours discourage you.”

As his time in the AMNP program comes to a close, Cayce reflects on his transition from the stage to the exam room. While it has been a whirlwind of events, he is grateful he had the courage to embark on a new journey.

“My advice to others is to trust your gut. If you feel like you have a calling, go for it,” Cayce said. “Take the leap. It will feel terrifying, but still jump because you’ll end up flying right into so many great opportunities.”