Tuesday, May 11, 2010 2:32 PM

Technology advances wow during Valenzuela’s 35 years in nursing

Today, it’s the leading edge CyberKnife robotic surgery system that keeps California Cancer Center nurse Laura Valenzuela busy. And it’s that type of technology that has changed the health care field so much since Valenzuela began her nursing career 35 years ago.

Nursing is all Valenzuela has ever wanted to do, and she says she wouldn’t change a thing about the path she’s taken in her career. Community Regional Medical Center was the first facility in the world to offer Generation 4 CyberKnife technology.

Valenzuela spends her days working with the image-guided system that can pinpoint tumors throughout the body and deliver concentrated doses of radiation with millimeter accuracy. Patients experience no pain, no incision, no anesthesia and require minimal recovery time.

National Nurses Week is celebrated each year from May 6 to May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale, who’s credited as founder of modern nursing. And while Community Medical Centers aims to recognize each of its 2,200-plus nurses, MedWatchToday.com caught up with a few of Community’s longest tenured caregivers to get insight on the nursing profession.

What journey did you take to become a nurse?
Valenzuela: I graduated from high school and entered the Fresno State nursing program.
I felt I could help people and was caring enough to handle this profession.

What are the biggest changes you have seen in the nursing profession in your career?
When I walk the floors I can’t tell the nurses from the ancillary staff and that is really different.

Why do you like working at Community Medical Centers?
I love the people and the ability to be able to help.

What is your most memorable moment as a nurse?
In radiation oncology, we treat children. Once, there was a 4-year-old who after five to six treatments with anesthesia was forming a trusting bond with me. One day, he came in and said, “Laura, I don’t want to go to sleep today.” I spent time explaining to him he would need to be very still and not move for treatment and through that bond and trust he never needed anesthesia again for his treatments. Moments like that are special to me.

What shifts have you worked?
All of them. Days, PMs, graveyard, eight hours and 12 hours.

What is your best piece of advice for those going into nursing today?
Get the hospital background in nursing before specializing. Work your way up and appreciate the ancillary staff who helps you get through your days.

This story was reported by Bonni Montevecchi. She can be reached at MedWatchToday@communitymedical.org.