"I've Always Enjoyed Working With People and Helping People"

October 3rd, 2018

Jorge Ortiz, RN, BSN, originally planned to become a physician but found his calling as a nurse, another career path that allows him to make a difference in the lives of patients.

Originally from Peru, Ortiz came to the United States at age 20 with his mother and brother in 1998. His first task: learn English.

JPS Health Network

Jorge Ortiz

“I had to go to school for two years just to get my English to college level. It was an intense program. It was difficult at first because there are not many jobs you can get without being fluent in English. It wasn’t easy but I wanted to get it done,” he said.

Ortiz initially planned to be a physician and invested several years taking pre-med courses before deciding against medical school because of the cost. So in 2005, he switched focus and opted for nursing, starting his career as a Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN). He worked at various hospitals for about five years before enrolling in a program at Tarleton State University for LVNs to further their education. He graduated in 2011 with a bachelor of science degree in nursing (BSN) and started at JPS Health Network in May 2012.

“I wanted something in the medical field. I always enjoyed working with people and helping people. I love what I do,” Ortiz says. “I’ve never liked a job sitting at a desk. I have to be doing things. The main thing I enjoy is being able to help.”

Ortiz, 40, is a floor nurse in the Clinical Decision Unit (CDU) at John Peter Smith Hospital, which used to be called the Observation Unit. It’s a fast-paced, specialized unit for patients who may need additional treatments or tests as healthcare providers determine whether they need to be admitted to the hospital.

In general, common reasons people are cared for in a CDU include chest pain, shortness of breath, fever and dizziness. Nurses closely monitor patient’s vital signs, give intravenous medications and coordinate blood tests or x-rays, among other critical tasks.

Many patients in the unit at JPS have experienced chest pain and need a stress test, or have kidney stones or dialysis, Ortiz said. Often, patients are treated and are able to return home in a day or two.

“Our main focus is to do everything as quickly as possible to decide whether they can go home or be admitted. We get everything done in a timely manner so that we have all the information needed to make a decision,” he said. “Our group is very compact and we help each other. That’s the main reason why I’ve been there so long. I like our group.”

He finds that his experience as an immigrant resonates with many of his patients and helps him develop rapport quickly.

“We have many immigrants that come to the hospital and sometimes they are really concerned and don’t know what to do. They relate. They trust you a little better. We’ve been through the same thing,” he said.

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