Written by Fred Calixtro, DNP
When I was in school, whenever I was asked what I would like to become when I grew up, I said, “I would like to become a priest.” I wanted to serve, to help and to travel. My dream was to become a world traveler and to meet people with different backgrounds and experiences.
I earned my bachelor’s degree in nursing at University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center in Manila, Philippines. My first year out of nursing school was a reality check. I started my career as a nurse at the Philippine Heart Center caring for patients post-open and -closed heart surgery. The learning curve was very steep, like Mount Everest. I was nervous and shaky (I wished it was hypoglycemia so I could hide and they would leave me alone). Patients asked questions that I didn’t know the answers to. I was asked by health care providers to perform routine exams that I had not done before. In short: I was challenged. The first two years of nursing were truly a very steep climb. However, I was motivated to reach the top. I stuck with it and accepted the challenge with pride and dedication.
After two years of difficult real-life experiences, I was ready to pursue my dream of becoming a world traveler. My inquisitiveness and adventurousness landed me in the Middle East during the Gulf War. The initial experience was truly daunting, yet amazing, breathtaking and exciting. As a young man, I felt both invisible and energetic. I became immersed in the culture of the Middle East and was fascinated with the ways medicine, nursing and patient care were done there.
Since then, my career has given me additional opportunities to travel, to acquire new friends from all over the world and to visit countries around the globe. I’ve embraced all of these differences and learned from them.
When I moved to the U.S., I worked at St. Vincent Hospital in Portland, Oregon and worked with Dr. Albert Starr who invented the Starr-Edward heart valve. I wanted more experience, so I joined the Mayo Clinic’s the intensive care unit, caring for patients with variety of diagnoses, including transplant.
After much traveling and fun, I ended up going back to school and finished my master’s degree in nursing, doctor in nursing practice and post-master family nursing practice. I became a professor of nursing and applied my experience as a nurse to the classroom setting, teaching students how to provide patient care. Teaching students, hospital staff and family members was truly an amazing experience.
After teaching for 15 years, I decided to become a provider at ACV Centers. I am thankful I have been given the opportunity to go back to my passion of providing patient care. Under the guidance of Dr. Bernstein and Dr. Pliagas, I have been able to develop and gain confidence in the practice setting. Both doctors are a great role models in providing the best care possible. The staff at ACV LV are top-notch and passionate about saving lives.
All of these years of experience have helped me change for the better, grow as person, constantly develop skills, sharpen my mind and become a person who has the courage to go out there every day and provide the best care I can for patients and family members. Nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something.