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Recent VC nursing graduate on frontline in fight against COVID-19

Gabe Garcia Gabe Garcia, who graduated from Victoria College’s Associate Degree Nursing Program in December, has had to quickly adjust to his new position as a night nurse at Citizens Medical Center’s Intensive Care Unit.

Gabe Garcia was all smiles as he walked off the stage at Victoria College’s Emerging Technology Complex last December after graduating from VC’s two-year Associate Degree Nursing Program.

Now four months later, Garcia finds himself on the frontline in the fight against COVID-19.

“It’s sort of surreal,” said Garcia, who is a night nurse for the Citizens Medical Center’s Intensive Care Unit. “All healthcare workers are needed now more than ever.”

Garcia, 23, had just completed his orientation at Citizens Medical Center when the novel coronavirus began sweeping the globe at pandemic proportions.

“When COVID-19 broke out, we all had to take a step back,” Garcia said. “More than ever, we realized we would have to rely on each other as a team. Everyone has always gotten along and helped each other out. But now it is more apparent than ever, and I couldn’t ask for a better team to work with.”

Garcia, who commutes to work each day from his hometown of Yoakum, said Victoria College’s ADN Program prepared him to handle each patient and case separately.

“VC did a great job of preparing me for procedures, telling us what the textbook says and what the state board says, and telling us what we’ll need to know in real life,” Garcia said. “But every patient is different, and one of the best things one of my instructors at VC told me was, ‘Your patient is not a textbook.’ This type of care is not limited to the medical side. There is the emotional side as well. What I truly enjoy most about my job is when both elements come together to make a difference.”

Challenging himself during clinicals and skills tests in the ADN Program has come back to benefit Garcia.

“I knew what I put into nursing school was what I was going to get out of it,” Garcia said. “I always tried to do a little extra. In clinicals, I would try to understand my more complicated patients. When we started working on case studies, I would pick the most complicated one. I took advantage of what was available in the skills testing because I knew eventually I was going to have to do these things on my own. I would have to gain the patients’ trust to do these things for them.”

Garcia said one of the biggest tasks in the ICU is preventing spread of the virus within the hospital.

“We are doing everything we can to minimize exposure and to minimize people coming in,” Garcia said.

Healthcare workers also have taken extra precautions when off the clock.

“We want to enjoy our time off, but we are isolating ourselves from our families and friends,” Garcia said.

Garcia said even though he is risking his health everyday on the job, he wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

“People will say we chose this profession, and we did,” Garcia said. “But I don’t think anyone signs up to work a global pandemic. But I love being a part of a team that works tirelessly in order to provide the utmost in care for our patients during the toughest times.”