Eleven years ago, everything clicked for Providence Alaska Medical Center (PAMC) nurse Ruben Medrano, BSN, RN. A nursing school instructor introduced him to one of his nurse superpowers, something he uses each day while at work in the hospital’s emergency department.
While in his last semester at the University of Texas in El Paso, his instructors put him and his classmates through an acute care simulation meant to test how they responded to a chaotic situation. The challenging simulation gave the students intentional exposure to real-life acute care scenarios that included cardiac arrythmias, code carts and the need to shock a patient’s heart into normal heart beating rhythm.
“They try to throw everything they can at you to make it as confusing as it can be,” Medrano explains. But what he remembers most is what his instructor told him afterwards. “You seemed to exhibit a really calm presence,” the instructor told him. “We watched you live. Whatever was going on, you kept the energy level in the room calm and coordinated.”
That was the first time he had heard that about himself, but it’s not the last.
He’s received that feedback throughout his 11-year nursing career. For Medrano, it’s a badge of honor that he wears with pride and one that grounds his practice as an emergency department nurse at Providence.
The constant unknown and unexpected nature of emergency medicine makes it “easy to get up in the morning and come to work,” Medrano says.
“Every day is just totally different,” he says. “It can be a day where not a lot is happening, then you come in on a different day and hit the ground running and it’s literally non-stop for a full 12 hours.”
While he may be wired for calm and variety, his heart is definitely tuned to the people in his care. He quickly discovered that as a nursing student while training in a local Texas hospital and is reminded of that each day at Providence.
The nature of emergency medicine means he doesn’t have a lot of time to get to know his patients. But he’s thankful for the time he can truly be present with them. Those moments refuel his interest and passion for nursing when the work is hard.
“You meet people on their worst day,” he says. “Being available for someone really hit home for me and hit me in my heart. This is the one thing that has kept me in it.”
He and his now wife discovered Providence Alaska Medical Center as traveling nurses five years ago. They had the opportunity to experience other hospitals in various parts of the country but chose to stay at Providence after learning the values of the hospital and all the resources available to patients. They both work in the emergency department, though on different shifts. A two-year-old son keeps one parent home while the other works.
“Everybody just shows up, works together and gets through the day as a team,” Medrano explains. He’s a witness to his coworkers’ daily commitment to doing everything possible to save the lives of their patients – doing what Medrano describes as both physically and emotionally demanding work.
“Nobody bats an eye or hesitates,” Medrano says. “That’s just very inspiring.”
Medrano wants his community to know what awaits them should they need emergency care.
“Know that we’re always here for you, no matter what the situation or problem is,” he says. “There is going to be a caring hand and a caring voice to help you navigate.”
Medrano is one of more than 1,200 nurses working at Providence Alaska Medical Center and one of nearly 1,600 nurses who work in service of the Providence Alaska Region. The World Health Organization extended its 2020 “Year of the Nurse and Midwife” celebration into 2021.
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