Amy Aguirre will be working toward her Master of Science in Nurse Anesthesia through Newman University’s Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) program beginning fall 2020. She said she looks forward to starting the program and becoming part of the Newman community.
In the meantime, she took on a different type of learning experience by signing up to work as a crisis ICU nurse in the COVID-19 unit at Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen, Texas.
Aguirre is not a stranger to crisis situations. She has several years of medical, cardiac, surgical and trauma ICU nursing experience and currently works at a flight nurse for Apollo MedFlight based out of Amarillo, Texas.
Her husband is a firefighter and the two have even worked on the same call — he and his team worked to rescue an individual from a vehicle, and after, Aguirre and her team life-flighted the patient to the hospital.
Her career goals have always included earning a master’s degree and eventually a doctorate. She received her associate degree in nursing from Amarillo College in 2015 followed by her Bachelor of Science in nursing from West Texas A&M University in 2018.
When she decided it was time for the next step in her education, she found Newman through a quick search and fell in love with the university’s Christian foundation, values and code. She quickly applied and was accepted.
In the midst of all this, she felt called to do something for others during the current COVID-19 pandemic. She had been following a Facebook page that was asking for nurses to deploy to New York City during its virus spike.
That’s where she learned of the opportunity in Texas to help in a critical time. She spoke to her manager and received permission to take a leave of absence in order to take the opportunity, and she only hesitated slightly when it was time to talk to her husband. This job would temporarily take her away from her husband and son and she knew that could cause some hiccups along the way.
However, after their discussion, the decision to go was made and she said there were no hesitations and no looking back.
She spent three weeks at Valley Baptist caring for patients with COVID-19. She went from feeling excited and somewhat nervous to experiencing feelings of sadness and strong compassion.
“I worked in a 500-bed hospital that contained approximately seven ICUs while I was there,” said Aguirre. “I watched four of my patients lose their battle with the virus during my time there and that weighs heavily on my heart. But something I will take away from this is a stronger faith and prayer life.”
Aguirre said she was surrounded by prayer all the time. She sat with family members and prayed — even daily with one patient’s family. She often heard the hospital chaplain praying overhead on the intercom. And she was humbled by all the prayers being said for her and the other nurses.
“In the end, I have to rely on my faith and show as much compassion for those around me. It’s out of my hands and in God’s. There is only so much I can do before I give it to God. I have learned to always pray about everything, no matter how big or small.”
She hopes to one day use her education and experience and pass on knowledge to others as a professor. Aguirre said she is very interested in doing mission work someday and has even looked into one day being part of a CRNA trauma team that would fly a CRNA and an ER physician to scenes with extended extraction times.
“There’s just so much I want to do,” exclaimed Aguirre. “One more dream of mine is to set up a scholarship in my hometown of Perryton, Texas. I want to help young mothers such as myself see that just because you have a child at a young age does not mean you cannot make your dreams come true.”
Aguirre said the experience will be something she carries with her for a lifetime.
“It was definitely a rewarding and overall positive experience. Especially as my last days as a bedside nurse. I helped a patient fight coronavirus and now I’m almost certain they will be able to return home to their child.
“So many families showed their appreciation to me and complimented my ability to break things down to them and explain everything in a caring manner. So many families have prayed for me to be blessed wherever I go and honestly that’s more meaningful to me than any amount of money I may have earned while there.”