'It works for me': Cheshire Emergency Department registrar also stars on Keene State College soccer field

Keene State soccer defenseman Damir Hamzic takes the ball up the field.
Keene State College men's soccer senior captain Damir Hamzic — who also works part-time in the Cheshire Medical Center ED — takes the ball up the field. Photo courtesy of Keene State College.

Even just getting a warm blanket for someone that's in need changes the way they think. It makes them feel better. For every stressful and hard situation, there's also a very good and thoughtful person that you help.

Damir Hamzic

On the weekends, you can usually find Damir Hamzic sitting in the secondary registration window in the Cheshire Medical Center Emergency Department. As ambulances arrive, Hamzic helps register and check in the incoming patients.

He works 12-hour shifts from 10 am to 10 pm most Saturdays and Sundays. You can’t miss him — especially when he stands up.
That’s because he is 6 foot, 4 inches of equal parts welcoming hospitality and competitive tenacity. That second part comes in handy when he’s not in the Emergency Department (ED) and anchoring the defense of the Keene State College men’s soccer team each fall.

“I feel like I work better in a high-stress environment,” says Hamzic, who will be a senior captain for the 2024 season. This is an asset for anyone who works in a fast-paced emergency department. “Plus, I couldn't see myself washing dishes or working in a fast-food restaurant.”

Many students find easy-to-manage side jobs working in low-stress environments such as food supermarkets or stores to earn their weekend spending money. Maybe they find a gig working in the campus library, where they do their homework while earning a little extra cash.

Not Hamzic.

When he was job hunting in 2022 during his sophomore year, Hamzic (now age 21) had to prioritize finding a position that could balance the commitments that come with being a Division III athlete on top of schoolwork and social engagements. With the Emergency Department open around the clock, there were plenty of hours for him to pick up along with a flexible schedule offered by his supervisor, Patricia Ainsworth.

“On days where I have a home game, I end up coming in like 30, 45 minutes right after a game,” says Hamzic. “I’ll just finish up, go home, shower, and I'm in.”

Damir Hamzic, a young man with brown hair, sits at a desk.
Damir Hamzic sits at the registration window during one of his weekend shifts in the Cheshire Medical Center Emergency Department.

He works weekend shifts around home games and practices during the season and picks up some extra hours (including at Central Registration) during the off-season. All in all, Cheshire ended up being a perfect fit.

And the feeling is mutual, Ainsworth says.

“Damir is a great worker,” says Ainsworth, who works for Conifer Health Solutions, the company Cheshire uses to staff its reception desks. “It has been a joy to have Damir with us at Registration. He is fun to work with, and his co-workers enjoy working with him. He is funny and loves to talk about soccer, his family, and funny things that happen at the school.”

There’s also an understated caring nature that lies below the 6-foot-4 surface, Ainsworth says.

“He will stop as he is walking by patients to see if they need a blanket, get the nurse because they are not feeling well, get snacks for visitors (if he can),” Ainsworth says.

It’s that patient/staff interaction and connection that Hamzic now recognizes as one of his favorite aspects of the job.

“Even just getting a warm blanket for someone that's in need changes the way they think, it makes them feel better,” Hamzic says. “For every stressful and hard situation, there's also a very good and thoughtful person that you help.

“There are lows, but definitely highs too.”

Hamzic was born in Ukraine, and his family came to Manchester, New Hampshire, when he was about 5 years old. Much of his family still live in Bosnia. With a deep voice and just the whisp of an accent, Hamzic says people are constantly surprised when they learn he works as a registrar at the Emergency Department. They also assume he’s a Nursing major.

“And I tell them I’m a Safety major, and they’re like, ‘What?’” he says. “I just explain to them, hey, it works for me. I like it. That's what I do.”

One person who was not surprised to learn of Hamzic’s side gig is his coach, Matt Schmidt, who has coached him for his entire KSC career.

“Based on his leadership skills and personality, it makes complete sense,” Schmidt says. “Damir, as you can imagine, is quite the presence on the soccer field. He has a unique skill set with size and technique that most players don’t have.

“He is both assertive and able to step back, be empathetic, and allow others to take the lead. We are very fortunate to have him in our program. I’m excited to see where the next chapter of his journey takes him when he starts his professional career.”

If there’s one thing that has surprised Hamzic, however, it is how full the ED gets. While Emergency Departments across the state and the country grapple with capacity issues — Cheshire among them — Hamzic wants people to consider all factors before lashing out at a provider or registrar.

“Honestly, there are a lot of people who get aggressive or mad, especially when they've been there for a couple of hours, which I understand in a lot of cases,” Hamzic says. “I do have empathy for those patients. In most situations, I understand what they're going through, but they just have to understand that we are a smaller emergency room and that there are a lot of urgent cases that do end up coming in.”

“So, if you're out there, just wait, and I promise someone will get to you.”

Perhaps it’s only natural that Hamzic has found a home at Cheshire. While he considers himself “very aggressive” on the field, the role has allowed him to develop and hone his collaboration and communication skills in tandem with the Registrar working the other ED registration window.

“When I'm in the ED, you are just working with one other person,” Hamzic says. “So you have to work like a team of two with the other receptionist. I think from a leadership standpoint, it has really helped me.”

If you’ve ever considered a career in healthcare — or are looking for a flexible schedule that fits around your practices and games — visit our Careers page to see how you can join Team Cheshire.