A nurse for all seasons – ICU nurse says nursing is a humbling experience
by James Coburn
Being a nurse working in an intensive care unit is the best place to be able to put all the pieces together that Genaro Cabrera learned in school, he said. It brings together the clinical picture with diagnostics and labs to learn the path of physiology, said Cabrera, RN, ICU flex nurse at Mercy Hospital in Oklahoma City.
Cabrera earned his Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from the University of Central Oklahoma in the fall of 2012. He has been with Mercy for three years always working in the intensive care unit.
He is certified in continual replacement renal therapy, a background making Cabrera an excellent nurse to work with when dealing with a patient he currently has in renal failure. The certification requires orientation and applied studies in a class to prove proficiency.
“I’m flex, so I can do resource. I can do charge occasionally and work with sicker patients like this,” he said.
What he admires about the Mercy ICU staff is their positive attitude combined with an overwhelming sense of being a team.
“You’re never alone. If you need help you can ask anybody even if it’s a busy day,” he said. “If anybody is there to help they will offer a helping hand. I think that is what I like the most.”
Working in the ICU means working with two critical patients at one time for Cabrera, he said. That is how the acuity functions in the ICU. He said there are certain occasions when they can take care of three patients, but during those times they must be of lower acuity.
“We see anything from an observation to someone coming in with multi organ failures, bleeding and stuff like that,” Cabrera said.
Family interaction with nurses is also a major part of what Cabrera provides in the ICU, he continued. Anticipating a doctor’s need also translates very well to anticipating the needs of family, he said.
“So I have to be the main mediator and facilitator for everybody essentially,” he said. “So you have to learn to anticipate. You’re there for your staff as well and your family.”
“You offer that type of facilitation. Imagine not having any type of medical background and coming to see some of these patients.”
If one has never been exposed to someone on a ventilator, on multiple therapies occurring and is sedated can be overwhelming to understand, he said.
“So we’re there to help,” Cabrera explained.
Nursing was ingrained in his spirit at an early age. His mother was a nurse as well as a sister.
“So it was just one of those things that was in my life early and everybody else talking about it was inspiring,” he said. “It’s a very unique feeling to take care of someone or be part of an interdisciplinary team that’s saving someone essentially that’s on the brink of death.”
Interventions are being done by an elite team and without them the patient would most likely expire.
“It’s a very humbling experience and it’s a lot of lessons along the way,” he said.
Being a nurse has given Cabrera a genuine appreciation for things in life that people take for granted.
“It’s the little things. I think humility is a big part,”he said.
When Cabrera is not working he spends time outdoors and loves to travel with his wife. They went to Europe last year and will return there in May.
“Traveling is probably my No. 1,” he said. “Kids aren’t in the picture yet but they are hopefully close.”