How one Registered Nurse perseveres while battling the COVID-19 pandemic
As an ICU Registered Nurse (RN) in San Leandro, California, Luciano Virgilio has been on the frontlines of the pandemic.
Assessment and implementation of care are the most important responsibilities of an ICU RN. From the start of each shift, Luciano thinks of patient assessment as an ongoing activity that requires critical thinking to ensure the wellbeing of his patients.
One of his biggest hurdles has been the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE). Other challenges include the restricted family visitations for patients as well as the increased stress and tension among the staff.
And yet, Luciano has not wavered in his compassion or commitment to the profession.
These are just a few reasons why we’ve chosen to feature Luciano Virgilio as one of our amazing Healthcare Heroes.
ICU RN in San Leandro, CA
Graduate of Unitek College, 2016
What made you choose your current career?
I did not choose nursing. Nursing chose me. I was born to be a nurse. Now that I can practice nursing to its full extent, I can honestly say that I simply love everything about it.
What are the typical responsibilities for someone in your position?
Assessment and implementation of care are the most important responsibilities of an ICU RN.
Walk us through a day in your life. What does it look like?
From the beginning of the shift, assessment of the patient is an ongoing activity that requires astute intellectual processing and critical thinking to ensure that the fragile conditions of your patient are not going to degenerate. For example, close monitoring of vital signs is required to identify subtle changes in the patient that may require intervention before such changes become life-threatening.
Implementation of pharmacological and nursing intervention is the correlated activity that constantly gets done during the shift. For example, a patient that starts to develop unusual arrhythmias, as opposed to their baseline, will prompt further assessment and possible medication administration to confirm or rule out certain problems. Active management of the patient vital signs is fundamental in the shift of an ICU nurse.
How has the pandemic affected your work?
Scarcity of PPE. Limitation of family visitation with patients. Procedures have been adjusted to focus on minimizing risk to Covid-19. Increased stress and tension among staff due to an air of uncertainty.
What has been the most challenging aspect of your job in recent weeks?
The heightened focus on infection control and the lack of proper PPE makes the daily routine at work extremely exhausting and, at times, unsafe.
What aspects of your healthcare training have prepared you for the current crisis?
Evidence-based practice is the strongest tool against the unknown. Application of the basic concepts of infection control that I learned in my training, such as handwashing, gives me the confidence to move forward and get past this crisis.
What do you appreciate most about your job?
I get to make a difference in someone else’s life.
Where do you find the inspiration to endure this difficult period? What’s been your greatest source of strength?
My inspiration still lies in the notion that what I do makes a difference in someone else’s life. I find strength in learning more about this pandemic and the scientific discoveries that are published daily. Learning from the experiences of other healthcare providers on the frontlines gives me the confidence to continue my work while decreasing risks of infection.
How do you find balance? What do you do to maintain your composure during stressful moments at work?
I like to foster an environment of camaraderie with my fellow coworkers. When I feel stressed or overwhelmed, I can rely on my coworkers because they know that they can rely on me when they are in a tough spot.
Any words of advice or inspiration you’d like to share with other healthcare workers who may be coping with similar challenges?
Leave your insecurities behind and be confident in all the knowledge you have access to. Being unable to cope with this crisis should make you reflect on the very reason why you wanted to become a nurse.
What advice would you share with future generations of healthcare professionals?
Work hard to learn as much as possible. Challenge yourself daily to improve something; whether it is your own behavior and knowledge, a policy of your facility, or the life of a patient. Be proud of your work.
Is there any advice you’d like to share with the general public?
Trust your healthcare providers when they give you health advice and stop blindly believing every single thing that pops up in your social media feed.
What other interesting things would you like to share about yourself?
In my spare time, I love to paint (an old hobby that I just rediscovered).
Our deepest thanks go out to Luciano for sharing his story as he continues to care for patients in the ICU and battling COVID-19.
We appreciate his selfless efforts as well as the perseverance of so many other healthcare workers across the globe. Throughout history, healthcare and EMS workers have always been the true heroes of our communities. We honor them all.