A Circuitous Path

Sep 25, 2015

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My old job helped teach me to listen and not to judge

Jorge Murillo
There are some who may feel they were born to be a nurse. Maybe a seminal moment in their childhood either planted the idea or reinforced it. Many have talked about a feeling that they were always meant to be a nurse; called, somehow. They feel as if some sort of predestination plays a role in their pursuit of the greatest profession in the world. For others, though, the route taken to becoming a nurse is much more circuitous but no less fascinating. Jorge Murillo, whose track to finding the career of his dreams had more twists and turns than you normally might find; in, say, your average NASCAR event. Jorge is an RN who works in the CCU of Lakeland Regional Medical Center.

Taking the Long Way

"Well, I got my BA in media communications in 1993,” he explained. “I always felt like I wanted to be involved in the entertainment industry at some level, so I figured that was a good course to take. At the same time I used to work in the food industry as a bartender. I landed a freelance job in video editing, but the bartending job was more profitable, so I decided to stay in the food industry. I was 23 years old, and at that point, money seemed to matter more for me.”

Jorge may not have realized it at the time, but he was being prepared and educated with remarkable skills that would enable him to flourish in his current passion.

“Back then, I lived in Chicago and I worked for several restaurants until 2010,” he said. “The service industry gave me more than money; it taught me the concept of customer satisfaction and increased my empathy for all kinds of people.

“My old job helped teach me to listen and not to judge; it gave me the opportunity to learn more about the whole spectrum of the human being: mental, physical, spiritual and religious aspects. It taught me that every person’s life is important, no matter race, gender, age, economic or cultural status. The experiences I accumulated over those years prepared me for my present career, giving me the maturity needed, at least for me, to become competent in my present career.”

Taking a closer look 

There were other factors that began to make Jorge reconsider his career. 

“I was happy with my old job, but I felt like I was missing something in my professional life, so I decided it was time to leave. I tried to go back to work in the marketing industry, but all I found was sale jobs, which is what I’d been doing before. So I started to look into other options and started to contemplate nursing.” 

And then life got in the way. 

His father became very ill, and later died, but Jorge noticed something while visiting his father. 

“There were two nurses that were really nice to him,” he recalled. “I know my father was really going through a hard time, and they were so good at showing compassion and empathy to him. 

“Nursing is remembering how those amazing nurses took care of my father and showed him compassion. I learned that bringing up a smile, in my suffering father, was as important as the treatment. Those little moments made him forget, for a few seconds, his illness. Those little actions meant a lot to him, such as a back massage, a caring touch, playing music that he liked, scratching his itching back and empathizing with him. 

“Because of my father’s experience, this choice seemed so appropriate. I wished I could have provided the same kind of care and compassion those two did for my father, but I knew I could for others. I made the decision of changing careers, going back to school and that is how I started to engage in this amazing and rewarding profession.” 

Becoming a Nurse 

Jorge began working as an LVN in 2010, went back to Lake Michigan College for his RN associate degree in 2011 and began working at Lakeland in 2011. He’s now attending Western Michigan University and is on track to get his BSN, and he has designs on a master’s in nurse anesthesia. 

Those skills we talked about earlier have helped Jorge make some key observations.

“In these few years practicing nursing, I have come to realize there are two kinds of nurses: those that only work for the money, since it is a stable industry, and those, who like myself, find nursing fulfilling and see it as a profession where you have to invest yourself with all your heart, mind and soul, leaving behind prejudices and taboos to become part of the healing process of a human being. 

“Nursing is art and science, but furthermore, it is compassion and empathy. It is treating your patients as if they were your family members. For me, it is seeing my father in each of my patients, and caring for them as I would care for my father. Back then, I did not have the knowledge that I have now, and I so wish I could have given him much more.” 

His first NTI – but not his last 

And so he constantly thirsts for more. Knowledge, skill, wherewithal. And he recently found a lot of that from a source that about 7,000 nurses access every year. 

“I went to my first NTI this year,” he explained. “I was blown away. It was incredible.  

“Seeing so many nurses dealing with the same types of problems on a daily basis, and then to have access to so many resources and tools. It was so cool because, to me, it was just amazing. I will absolutely go again.” 

As Murillo sees it, what NTI offers in many ways are the special things needed to excel. 

“Our patients depend on us and we have to be careful and concentrate effectively in our care and give the best care possible. But if at the end of my shift, I accomplish my job, which entails transitioning my patients to a better condition, or if they are alert, I got a smile out of them, then nursing fulfills my life, and no money in the world would give me that satisfaction.”