Cindy Mercado, LVN just started her nursing career but has already made lasting impacts on her patients. Cindy didn’t always know she wanted to be a nurse – what she did know was that she cared deeply for people and wanted to help those in need. “I feel like I have so much love to give and nursing gives me that opportunity to spread my love…”
Mercado was recently named the Spring 2022 Recipient of the coveted Melissa A. Fischer Nursing Award.
IN THIS ARTICLE
How long have you been a nurse and when did you know this was the career path for you?
When you are little, they always ask you, “what do you want to be when you grow up”? I never knew the answer….I would always repeat what my friends would say. I would always ask myself, what would I be good at? My mom would tell me, “it will come to you” so time would pass and I still didn’t know what I wanted to do! I had the opportunity to start an EMT program and decided I wanted to join. When I was in the emergency room doing clinical rotations, I would watch the nurses and notice how much love and compassion they had with their patients. I knew right there, this is what I want to do – I want to be a nurse. As soon as I finished the EMT program, I jumped straight into the LVN program.
What specific lessons have you learned from being a nurse?
What I have learned so far is to not take things personally. Sometimes I have rude patients and one in particular made a comment saying that I was useless – I was completely stunned when he told me that. When I went home that day, I was thinking over the situation and came to the conclusion that most of these patients are alone, sad, depressed and angry because they have lost their independence – sometimes they don’t have any family or friends to support them either. I started thinking to myself, how would you feel if you were in their shoes? When I returned back to that patient I had shifted my mindset – I changed the way I spoke to him and tried to be more compassionate towards him. Everything changed that day. These patients most likely don’t hear kind words often and they need to be reminded that they are important and loved.
What was your first work experience as a nurse?
When I was a student still doing clinical rotation we had a combative patient. He was kicking and punching everybody! He didn’t want any of the nurses doing his treatment or wound care. I went up to him and held his hand and told him he could squeeze my hand if he wanted and explained to him that my co-workers were simply trying to help him. I told him, “they are here to help you not hurt you.” He was still angry but he grabbed my hand – I told him he had beautiful eyes and he looked at me speechless! We had a conversation while my co-worker finished his dressing. When she was done, the patient couldn’t believe it was done so quickly without pain. Ever since then, all of my coworkers would come to me when they had a combative patient. I was always willing to help. I feel like I have so much love to give and nursing gives me that opportunity to spread my love.
The Joys of Nursing
What’s your favorite part of being a nurse and what makes you smile at work?
When I come to work and see all my patients, especially my younger patients, they will run up to me and say, “Cindy, we are so happy to see you!” That makes my day! That makes me feel like I am doing something right. Seeing my patients makes me smile.
Self-Care for Nurses
Favorite ways to relax on your days off?
I watch movies with my family – we gather a bunch of different snacks! Sometimes we even just jump into the car and go on a long drive together. We will put good music on, grab ice cream and enjoy our time together.
Taking Time to Reflect
What life lessons or inspiration have you gathered from nursing?
Being more compassionate, caring and empathetic. My patients have inspired me to be a better nurse, a better friend, and overall a better person. Nursing has also taught me to be grateful for the beautiful life that I have. Being a nurse has made me look at the beauty in life – not to take anything for granted.
What is your most treasured memory as a nurse?
We had our family cat for 4 years until he became super sick. I had to take him to the vet and the vet said that he was very ill and that he would need to be put down. I had to work on the day that we were going to take our cat in so my husband had to take him. I was so sad heading into my shift but knew I had to be strong for my patients because I am supposed to support them. I didn’t mention anything to my patients – one of my patients looked at me and asked, “Cindy what’s wrong? Your eyes look so sad.” I couldn’t hold my tears back – I explained to my patient what happened with our family cat and how sad I was that I was unable to be there to say goodbye. She started crying as well and gave me a hug and I told her, “You have no idea how much this hug means to me. When she was discharged, she surprised me with this beautiful painting that she made for my cat – she gave it to me and I put it in my room. I will have that memory in my heart forever.
What advice do you give to nurses starting out?
To never give up and dream. I was told multiple times by multiple people that I had no chance of being a nurse but I never gave up. I received my license, and here I am today! Working and loving my patients. Don’t let anyone tell you what you can and cannot do.