Hospital Volunteer Becomes Nurse

Christina Curiel spent a year of Friday evenings volunteering more than 350 hours in the busy Emergency Department and Trauma Center at Providence Holy Cross Center. And that’s how she got hooked.

A young adult trying to decide what to do in life, Christina saw her future clearly. Her experiences helping patients and their families spurred her to nursing school – and now to her dream job. Christina, who was born at Holy Cross, started in August as an ICU nurse, a challenging role even for her veteran colleagues but a challenge she relishes.

“I like the attention to detail in the ICU,” she said. “And I really love how close the nurses and doctors are and how we don’t just treat the patients – the families are our patients, too. Your patients might not be doing so well so a lot of what we do is taking care of the family. It’s a very stressful time in their lives.”

She’s grateful to her mentors, in particular Kay Radford, the head volunteer in the ED.

“Once I told Kay I wanted to be a nurse, she wanted me to be experience everything,” Christina said.

She helped with trauma patients, getting their identifications, handling their belongings and talking with them and their families. She met the physicians and they “gave me tips” about caring for patients.

Christina, who grew up in Sylmar and attended Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, had worked part-time in broadcasting at a radio station. But it wasn’t what she wanted. She attended College of the Canyons, and once she was set on nursing, earned her BSN at Cal State Northridge. A bachelor’s degree in nursing is a requirement of Providence Health & Services for newly hired registered nurses.

During college, she completed her clinical work at Holy Cross, working in several departments. When she did her stint in the ICU, she knew that’s where she belonged. In college, she was chosen as the student member of the board of the San Fernando Valley American Association of Critical Care Nursing, adding to her budding expertise.

And then she put all her hopes in landing a job at Holy Cross, difficult for a “new grad,” but possible when you’ve proven yourself.

“I only applied at one hospital because I felt I was in the right place,” she said. “The values are in line with mine here and I knew I wanted to be a part of this hospital. I feel so lucky and blessed to be here and a part of it. I feel like it’s family on my unit. They accepted me so quickly and are so willing to teach me.”

Today she urges her nursing school friends to apply at Holy Cross, and encourages volunteers who are interested in nursing to consider following her path.

“Apply here and never look back. You have to think about your happiness and you’re going to be happy at Holy Cross. I have a friend who was miserable at her job and I told her to apply here. She thanks me every day.”

For information about nursing careers at Providence, please visit our employee listings here.

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