Author Mandy Hale once wrote “To make a difference in someone’s life you don’t have to be brilliant, rich, beautiful or perfect. You just have to care”. Andres Gomez exemplifies this quote as a nurse, mentor, and an individual. It is his supportive nature and exceptional teaching ability that has made working even in the Emergency Department a welcoming space for nurses like myself.
My nursing journey began in high school when I started volunteering for a nursing at a long-term care home. It dawned on me that nurses can really make a difference in the lives of people by being a comfort to them during a difficult time. This made me realize that above all, I wanted to be a good nurse. When I first transferred to the Emergency Department, I was very anxious. Andres was assigned as my preceptor. My nursing background is in general medicine and the Emergency Department brings with it a sense of pride as well as intimidation. I worried about the new environment, apprehensive of my own skills, and conscious of those I lacked.
The first sign of Andres being an exceptional individual came before I even joined the unit. He went above and beyond in welcoming me to the ER. He reached out to me via an email in which he voiced his enthusiasm in aiding me to develop the skills I would need to become a successful ER nurse. Unbeknownst to him, this gesture alleviated much of the stress and anxiety that I previously had. For the first time since accepting my job offer, my anxiety did not outweigh my excitement to begin this new role. I knew that I would be okay.
The last few months of working with Andres has really cemented my first impression of him. I have watched myself learn and flourish under his guidance. Andres has an absolute wealth of knowledge from his many years working in the ER, his active participation in projects, and from taking on leadership roles around the unit. I can persistently go to him with questions knowing he will always be willing to answer and will often use his own time to do research regarding my queries to really help me understand concepts. Furthermore, he is always ready to share his personal notes gained from his professional experience to ensure that I feel comfortable with the new and existing cases that I will encounter during my years of practice. Apart from being a wonderful leader, he is just as wonderful a team player. At times he will even skip his breaks just to help his colleagues with their tasks to ensure that they are not falling behind, although he will always ensure that I had mine. Even with the pace of the day, he is never lacking in patience. No matter how horrible his day is, he is always generous with his smiles and his prevailing optimism. When it gets too busy or chaotic in the ER, or when things are just not going the way that they should, his positive attitude helps get everyone through the day. I am most grateful for his habit of ending our days with a “good job” no matter how tumultuous our shift was, how many questions I had, or how many tasks I needed his help with, he would always find something to ensure I never felt discouraged at the end of day. I go home every shift ready to take on the next one knowing I have the help of such a wonderful preceptor to guide me, this support and encouragement mean the world to me. His confidence in my abilities, even when I personally did not have any, allowed me to feel comfortable in the ER and I learned to trust in my own capabilities; beginning to see that I knew more than I gave myself credit for.
Andres was also always looking for learning opportunities for me. He would consistently allow me to take part in emergency situations. He understood that I was not yet comfortable with participating in critical cases, so he was always there to explain to me everything that was occurring in a situation. In order for me to gain experience and confidence with handling precarious patient conditions, he would assign small tasks to me to allow me to gradually become more accustomed to the responsibilities and duties as a member of the team and not just a bystander. No matter the severity of the situation, Andres would always be calm and collected and his demeanour continues to be a grounding force which allows myself and the staff in the room to think clearly, accurately and act quickly. I clearly remember a shift when I was having trouble with administering an emergency medication and began to panic, proceeded to walk me through how to administer it correctly. He never got frustrated with my shortcomings and never took over the job but rather spent the time to teach me how to perform the task allowing me to become more competent and gain confidence in my abilities even amidst the stress of the situation. Andres’ positivity and caring nature does not only impact the staff, but also resonates deeply with his patients. Furthermore, he goes above and beyond to ensure that all of our patients are comfortable. He would advocate for pain medication and the acceleration of diagnostic tests if he thought that it was required. In one instance, he even went to multiple units seeking baby powder to fulfill a patient’s request to allow her to be more comfortable. Whether they were grand errands or little tasks, Andres always took time to address patients’ concerns and strived to make them feel as comfortable as possible.
believe that some people are destined to become nurses and positively influence others’ lives, and Andres is one of those people. He shines in so many ways and deserves every bit of recognition and more. Andres does not go above and beyond for praise or for the sake of acclamation, he does it out of the kindness of his heart and his desire to advocate for those who don’t have the ability to do it. His boundless amount of patience, extensive body of knowledge, continual support of fellow colleagues, and frequent advocation for patients, has made him one of the most extraordinary people that I have had the chance to work with. It has been my privilege and honor to have him as a preceptor and I will be forever grateful for his time, support, and encouragement throughout the challenging beginning of my ER career. His unyielding belief in me has gotten me through some of the most trying times when I thought that I was not good enough to become an emergency nurse. I have realized that no words can ever describe my appreciation towards Andres, but like American researcher Steve Maraboli once said, “[he] changed my life without even trying, and I don’t think I could ever tell [him] how much [he] means to me. I can’t imagine what things would be like if I hadn’t met [him]”. Over the short months that I have known Andres, he has become so much more than just my mentor. He is my friend, my colleague, my counsellor, my teacher, but most of all, my hero.
Nominated by Christine Lai