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Nursing Student Strives to Uplift Latino Communities in Health Care

Class of 2024 Grad Aspires to Become an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
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When his grandfather was nearing the end of his life, Adrian Ruiz admired how the health care team at Harbor UCLA Medical Center nurtured him. He felt inspired.

“After his passing, I traveled on a monthlong solo trip to Europe to spend some time alone and discover which academic journey I wanted to follow when I returned home. In Europe, I met many nursing and medical students who further motivated me to pursue what my heart was telling me all along, a nursing career,” said Ruiz, a Cal State Fullerton Class of 2024 nursing student.

Although he felt doubtful of his abilities to succeed in the field, he jumped on the opportunity. When Ruiz returned to California, he researched nursing programs and decided to register for science courses at CSUF. The School of Nursing’s strong reputation and notable faculty influenced him to apply.

“I have since fallen in love with nursing and hope to continue to elevate myself with this path I’ve chosen,” said Ruiz.

Recalling his experiences in the nursing program, Ruiz said that Kate Bayhan, lecturer in nursing, was pivotal to his growth in the field.

“She has helped shape me into a better student, constantly challenging me to think deeper when it comes to patient care and the pathophysiology behind the illness,” said Ruiz. “She is also very empathetic when it comes to patients and adds a touch of that human connection to every conversation. I strive to be a leader like her.”

In the nursing lab, Ruiz learned how to conduct head-to-toe assessments, IV insertion and IV setup in a controlled setting, which boosted his confidence to perform in a clinical setting. He credited the Foundations of Nursing Practice and Management of Surgical Adult and Older Adult Clients classes for his understanding of complex health alterations. 

With a responsibility to support diverse patients, Ruiz added that it is crucial for nurses to develop cultural competence to practice equitable care.

Ruiz, who also holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from Cal State Fullerton, explained that it is an essential skill in nursing with patients and colleagues.

“It is important to know how to guide communication to ensure there is no gray area that can lead to confusion and adverse patient health outcomes. It also helps when connecting with patients,” said Ruiz. “During my clinical rotations, I found that most of the time, the patients want someone to talk to for reassurance and education.”

As the COVID-19 pandemic strained the nursing workforce, Ruiz said the profession reinforced his perception of nurses as “resilient, compassionate, kind and dedicated.” Their steadfastness and willingness to expose themselves to a life-threatening virus shows their commitment to the affected communities.

Ruiz recently joined the National Association of Hispanic Nurses, which is devoted to promoting safe, quality health care delivery to Latino communities. As a new member, he is a pivotal leader within his cohort and is passionate about inclusion and equity in the nursing workforce. Ruiz has learned how to connect his Latino culture to his profession and how to use it when caring for patients.  

In his preceptorship, he learned how to observe doctors and nurse practitioners performing their rounds on the patients and listened to how they break down the information presented to them in the acute care setting. He also grasped onto critical thinking skills and the ability to quickly formulate a care plan. 

Throughout his nursing career, Ruiz said he hopes to never lose his sense of caring and empathy.

“We are caring for patients who are vulnerable in an unfamiliar environment,” said Ruiz. “It is essential to have that understanding and ease their minds by providing explanations and advocating for their recovery.”

After graduation, he envisions himself pursuing his master’s degree and possibly his doctorate, with the goal of becoming an acute care nurse practitioner.

“It is so extremely rewarding being able to see a patient progress from being in a critical state to being discharged with their family,” said Ruiz. “That is what inspires me, and will continue to for a long time.”

Written by: Vanessa Siguenza