Post-Anesthesia Care Unit, Raquel Gutierrez, Casa Colina Hospital and Centers for Healthcare Pomona
Caring for post-surgical patients at their most vulnerable
Please tell us about the arc of your nursing career.
I graduated from nursing school in the fall of 2012. My first job as a new grad was here at Casa Colina Hospital and Centers for Healthcare, on the acute rehabilitation wing. From there, I transferred to the medical-surgical wing.
I was new and eager to learn, so transferring helped build my nursing foundation and give me the experience and confidence I needed before moving forward to critical care. After two years, I transferred to the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) and knew right away that this was where I wanted to stay.
What in your early life prepared you for being a nurse? What kind of work did you do before entering nursing school?
Prior to nursing school, I worked as a medical assistant in a multi-specialty physician office. I primarily worked alongside an internal medicine physician/pulmonologist. I enjoyed helping people and knew that being a nurse would give me the opportunity to serve patients and their families.
I entered the nursing program in the spring of 2010, attending school part-time while working fulltime. It was the most important sacrifice I ever made! I now get to take care of patients and their families for a living and have enjoyed every step of my career.
How did you become interested in working in PACU?
Caring for patients in their most vulnerable states was a major interest for me. During nursing school, I initially wanted to work in labor & delivery, but after clinical rotations, my focus quickly shifted to recovery and ICU. Those units require more one-to-one patient contact where critical thinking is crucial for each and every patient interaction.
What skills or experience did you have that made you a candidate for a PACU position?
Prior to PACU, I worked on the medical-surgical wing, as I mentioned. Our team of nurses on that floor was highly experienced and took the time to explain or answer any questions or concerns I had involving patient care. Critical care nurses would also float to that floor and give many in-services on disease processes, treatments, causes, new equipment, etc. After two years, I felt I was ready to move forward and dive into PACU.
So, you never worked in critical care before coming to the PACU?
I did not work in any critical care unit prior to PACU, but I had acute care experience and fast learning skills. After reading many critical care books, articles and journals, I decided to try for the position.