STORIES
March 1, 2020

Male Nurse Wins ‘Mister Supranational’ Beauty Pageant

Male Nurse Wins ‘Mister Supranational’ Beauty Pageant

By Jacob Uitti

California travel Emergency Room nurse, Nate Crnkovich, can now add international male beauty pageant winner to his resume. 

Crnkovich, who recently won the Mister Supranational Competition, an international pageant featuring over 80 contestants that aims to find and celebrate men with good looks and strong character, now has a second career to go along with his high-pressure vocation as a trauma nurse. 

Between helping patients rushed in from the ambulance, Crnkovich travels to cities like Los Angeles and countries like Gambia and Poland to spread a healing message with a handsome face. We caught up with Crnkovich to ask him how he got started in nursing, how he got started in modeling and what he plans to do with both burgeoning careers as the future unfolds. 

Why did you want to become a nurse?

Instagram @natecrnk

My plan was to be a paramedic. My dad was a paramedic in the fire department in Omaha, where I’m originally from. So, it was something I was always interested in. Dad would come home and tell stories about the different stuff he’d see and I thought it was fascinating. So, I knew I wanted to do something medical. 

I ended up getting a four-year football scholarship at a small school in Iowa. Actually, my dad was the one who pushed me towards nursing. He figured if I was going to be in school for four years, I might as well get a four-year degree. I could always go back to get my paramedic license if it was something I wanted to do. So, that was the route I went. I stuck with nursing then I got into travel nursing and I’ve loved every second of it since. 

How did you get into a trauma center right out of nursing school?   

Instagram @natecrnk

I knew I wanted to be in the E.R. - and maybe the I.C.U. - especially if I could get into a trauma center right away. That was the plan. Luckily I got my preceptor shift when I was in school. My preceptor shift was in the Emergency Room. Obviously, it’s tough to be a new grad and get a spot in the E.R. right off the bat. But because I had gotten this preceptor shift and that they were in the middle of transitioning the trauma centers in Omaha from one hospital to another hospital, I got the job. 

They were looking for new hires and needed a lot of new staff. It was just the right place at the right time. I got hired straight out of school and became trauma certified within the first year. I’d been there for a couple of years and after a couple of years I had enough experience to start traveling. So, that’s what I’ve been doing since. 

What do you like most about working with ER trauma patients? 

Instagram @natecrnk

I guess you could say I’ve always been somewhat of an adrenaline junky. If you work in the E.R., you have to have a specific personality for it. Someone who just enjoys the chaos. It was something I’ve always been interested in. I like being kept on my toes, not knowing what’s going to come in, not knowing what we’re going to do every single night. It’s the total opposite from a mundane routine, which is something I wanted to avoid in any line of work that I picked. So, I picked the E.R. and loved every second of it. I would maybe consider I.C.U. or trauma I.C.U. maybe in the future but for right now I’m very content working in the emergency room. 

Why did you decide to become a travel nurse? 

Instagram @natecrnk

That was a thing my dad brought up to me. He worked with a couple firemen that were paramedics who also ended up getting their nursing degrees and they went on to do traveling nursing. He also discussed that it offered very good pay. And if you’re not married or tied down to anything, no home or mortgage or anything like that, it can be a good opportunity to get out and see a little bit of the country. 

I knew as soon as I graduated, I wanted to get the two years of experience and as soon as I had enough experience I wanted to be hired as a traveler. I got my two years, like, last July and in August I accepted my first traveling position.

Can you explain what Mister Supranational is and why you decided to enter the competition?

Instagram @natecrnk

I’d been approached a few times when I was living in Omaha about modeling. Obviously, there’s not a whole lot of opportunities for anything like that in the midwest or in Nebraska, in general. So, I never really pursued it. I was also always busy with school and I played sports my whole life. I wasn’t really around anybody that did anything like that, so I didn’t know how to get my foot in the door. 

That all changed when I moved out to Los Angeles, CA  for my first traveling position. I was in line at Wal-Mart and a photographer approached me and said, “Hey! I think you’d be good as a model. I think you could really do well in that field.” He gave me his card and followed up with me. 

We did a small, low-budget clothing-line photoshoot. He let me keep the clothes and the photos and helped me develop a portfolio in case I did get into anything like that. 

As a travel nurse, I worked three , I had a lot of free time in between shifts. So, I figured it would be a good way to make some extra money on the side, pay off my student loan, and pay off my car. 

Later, I was approached because of this portfolio I put online by the Mister Supranational U.S. organization. They got in touch with me and said, “Hey, we’d like you to audition for this male international pageant that takes place in Poland. There are 40 countries represented and we’d like you to compete.” 

I said, no, originally. I told them I did not think that was something I’d want to do. I mean, I was on the fence with modeling a little bit just because I’d never done anything like that before. 

But eventually, they got back in contact with me. The day the application was due, I submitted mine. I figured it would be a good way to get noticed, maybe I can get some numbers, get some contacts, get my foot in the door. Up until then, I didn’t know anybody in California, I’d never been to California, and I didn’t know how to make my way into modeling. 

Do you still work as a nurse since winning the competition?  

I ended up winning in the U.S. competition, which I didn’t expect. Then they sent me to Poland and it was pretty much the same thing. I figured, I might as well do it. I was lucky enough to get the time off work and went over there and I ended up winning the whole thing. It was just a crazy thing. I never intended for it to end up the way it did. But it’s been pretty cool. 

There have been some fun opportunities that have come up from it, but I still work full-time as a nurse. I’m trying to balance modeling and working as an E.R. nurse. Though I'm very busy, it’s been a lot of fun.

You looked pretty confident on stage right before your win. Did you feel confident?

Instagram @natecrnk

It was more just one of those things - I didn’t expect to even get there in first place. So, it was like a-what-do-I-have-to-lose mentality. All the other guys were full-time models for the most part. They’d at least done something like this in the past and I was the one guy who I felt should not be there. 

I felt that I just did not belong. I’m an E.R. nurse from Nebraska, the middle of the country with a blue-collar upbringing. My mom is a teacher and dad was a firefighter. That was just the upbringing I had - not anything like that competition at all. It was just more fun for me. 

But, at the same time, I’m a competitive guy, so I was going to do as well as I could. I figured that if I’m there I’m not just going to half-ass it. I’m going to try my best. 

I thought, “I’ll get in shape for this. And I’ll try to compete and see if I can win.” Things happened the way they did and it was a pretty cool honor. 

You said you plan to continue to work as a nurse?

Yeah, absolutely. I love nursing. It’s something I am. I think most nurses would tell you that you don’t get into that line of work unless you are passionate about it. It’s very mentally, physically and emotionally taxing work. I want to stay with it. If I run into anybody outside of work and they ask what I do, I still say I’m an E.R. nurse. I don’t mention the whole modeling thing.  

And while, I do love my job as a nurse, at the same time I’m sort of in a limbo period where I’m trying to see how I can balance between the two areas of my life. But I definitely intend to continue working. Whether I go per diem or maybe work as a PRN nurse. But at the end of the day, I still want to keep my license and I still want to work at a hospital. 

These pageants seem like a ton of work. What type of preparations did you have to undertake and how did it affect your job as a nurse?

Instagram @natecrnk

I work the night shift so I talked with my nursing manager in the hospital I’m at right now, St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Oxnard, California. I have to give a shout out to them because they were awesome about working with me and my schedule and continuing to work with me with all the new responsibilities. They let me do all my shifts in a row. I’d do three on and have so many days off before I had to go back to work. 

In between, I’d be down in L.A. the whole time. I had a runway coach, a modeling coach and I had to do photoshoots. Not only just to build up more of a portfolio going into the competition and have more professional pictures done but, also so I could get a feel of how it’s done and how you’re supposed to pose and all that. It’s a lot more of a science than I realized. 

Also, obviously, I was working out all the time. I was on a special diet. I met with a trainer a couple times to give me an idea of workouts I should be doing to get in the proper shape for the competition. There were a lot of different things that I had to learn all at once. I think I had about a month to prep for the competition. It wasn’t a lot of time to cram all that into but I had a great team of people helping me out. A lot of credit goes to them for sure.

Did being a former athlete help with pageant preparations? 

Absolutely. A lot of the workouts that we’d do with my trainer I was already familiar with from football. There was a lot of muscle memory from playing football, for sure. The working out part of it, that wasn’t new to me. 

The workouts weren’t as difficult as learning the modeling side of it and the preparedness, because I’d never done anything like that before. I was more careful about what I was eating, too.

Has the win changed your life in any specific way? Are there any duties you’re required to do?

I haven’t started touring with the organization, yet. But, basically, the whole point of the competition, the mission statement of Mister Supranational is that they want to find a young man who can represent good, solid core values and morals. Somebody other young men can look up to. They obviously wanted somebody who is physically attractive but there is a lot more that goes into it. It’s about how professional you are, how well spoken you are. It’s about the kind of person you are off the stage. So, I think being a nurse definitely helped, having that as a profession. 

I’ll have to go to a few different countries. They haven’t told me specifically which ones I’ll go to. But it will be for different events or different pageants going on around the world. They might have me as a judge or crown a winner or to speak to other competitors in their respective pageants. And on the other side of it, you get a little bit of a platform. You can a following on social media. So, you have an opportunity where you can pursue different charity work tailored to what you are interested in doing. 

First trip to volunteer in The Gambia

Instagram @natecrnk

I just got back from a trip to The Gambia in Africa. I was approached about and setup with a group of people with a charity based out of Poland and the plan is to continue to go back to The Gambia. They laid a foundation that helped one of the poorest schools in the area. I also went to a clinic there, the MRC clinic in The Gambia. I think it’s a U.K.-funded clinic but it’s a very busy clinic because it does have some western medicine influence. People in the area know it’s a good clinic to go to. So, they see a ton of patients every day. But it’s, like, the 16th poorest country in the world, 60% of the population is below the poverty line. They don’t have a whole lot. People are less educated about medicine or even how to treat themselves at home, very simple stuff like fevers and coughs. 

The nurses are very short-staffed. They don’t have a lot of supplies or funding. So, we’re going to coordinate things to help with that clinic and also the school that we visited and helped fundraise for. We want to help with education about basic first aid and how you can treat fevers and things like that. A lot of the parents just don’t have any idea. They haven’t had any chance to learn anything like that. So, we’ll make a return trip later in the year, probably in the summer or fall, to go back. It’s something that even without Mister Supranational on board, I still want to continue that work. 

This is the final question and the hardest hitting. You were on the Kelly Clarkson show after your win. What did you enjoy most about that?

Instagram @natecrnk

The best part was probably - oh, man! Let me think. Well, I got to give Kelly a hug. That was pretty awesome! It was the first time I’d been on a major studio production set, so that was really cool. When I got to go down and talk with Kelly in person, she’s such a down-to-earth, very charismatic, enjoyable person to talk to. So, it was really cool speaking with her, someone who also came from a similar background, coming from Texas, blue-collar. I could relate to that and she could relate to my story, too. Not that I’m anywhere near Kelly’s league as far as prestige or fame! But there was just that little bit that we could relate to. It was really cool to speak with her. 

She’s somebody in junior high who I always had a crush on. So, it’s cool to see your junior high crush and give her a hug. 

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