Arely Vega Garcia, R.N.
First-year student in OHSU School of Nursing’s Bachelor of Science degree program
Vega Garcia is one of many licensed registered nurses who come to OHSU for further training and experience. She continues to work evenings at a skilled nursing facility while she attends school. Arely spent her childhood in Peru, where her mother Gladys worked as a travelling nurse.
What inspired you to become a nurse?
When I was growing up in Peru, I would accompany my mother on her rounds. She would travel to neighboring towns with a cooler. At first I thought we were just visiting friends – she was so friendly and natural with everyone. It wasn’t until later that I realized she was carrying vaccines for TB, polio and other diseases that you don’t hear about in the U.S. They are still leading causes of death in Peru.
What has being a nurse taught you about people?
The biggest thing is, you can’t really force people to change. For example, I am very interested in helping people manage their diabetes and heart disease. I have learned that, even when my patients know what they should be doing to get better, it doesn’t matter if they aren’t in the right mindset. All you can do is educate and advocate – they have to want the change for themselves. At first it was hard. I would think to myself: I am giving you all the tools, why aren’t you using them? I have learned to be patient. I set realistic goals and celebrate small steps.
What led you to OHSU School of Nursing and what would be your ideal career path, after graduation?
I started out at Portland Community College, where I received an associate’s degree in nursing last June. I knew I wanted more education, so I took additional upper division classes at Portland State University, in order to transition to OHSU. I will be graduating from OHSU with a bachelor’s degree in nursing in June 2017.
After that, I may work for a while, to get more nursing experience. But in the future I can see myself becoming a nurse practitioner. I am also interested in doing humanitarian work overseas, for an organization like Doctors Without Borders. I may take some French classes so I can work in French-speaking African countries. I am from the developing world, and I understand those struggles.
What makes a good nurse?
At school they teach you science and symptoms, but you also have to develop your compassion. A good nurse is someone who is not only book smart but able to relate to their patient’s feelings. You have to sit down with them and listen, let them know that you care and that you don’t just think of them as a body with an illness. My mother taught me that – she did her job with love and dedication. I think that’s the biggest reason I went to nursing school.