Jerome Santos (BSN ’10), BSN, BA, RN
Operating Room Nurse at University of Washington Medical Center
I am often given the opportunity to travel to different places and see the many faces of poverty. In March 2013, I went to Jakarta, Indonesia. Instead of treating it like a vacation coma, I opted to take the slum tour. My heart cried out when I saw how horrible their situation was like living beside a rail train with no access to clean food, water, education, and health. At that very moment, I felt that I was called to do something. After coming back, I went to the Global Health Conference in April 2013, which became a life changing opportunity to me. After listening to world-renowned doctors, social entrepreneurs, and other advocates of global health, my purpose was never made clearer than at that moment. The inspiring words of people who genuinely cared for humanity completely redefined what were once just passive dreams of health equality in the international arena into a clearer and defined path where I can affect real change. Together with my good friend, Vladimir Shevchenco, who was my classmate at the college, we founded a non-profit organization called the International Health Outreach Program for Equality (theiHOPE.org). TheiHOPE.org is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that provides hope to many less fortunate societies around the world through servant leadership, health promotion projects, bridging the gap in health disparities, and collaborative partnership with various organizations. One hundred percent of our funds go directly to our health program and projects. In addition to our mission, TheiHOPE.org strives to reach out and help one country a year.
Furthermore, together with more than 20 volunteers, we are heading to the Philippines in January, 2014, to serve an island in Cebu that was affected by the strongest typhoon ever-recorded in history. We will provide medical care, food relief, and will sponsor a house to be built. We are going back in March 2014, to bring another health project for the people, and will go to Vietnam to conduct another community health assessment for our future projects. Eventually, our goal is to reach out to as many poor global communities as possible, creating a health project that addresses a specific health disparity, and provide ultimately hope to them. —–
Where are you from?
Why did you choose nursing as a profession?
I have always wanted to do something that would help less fortunate people. The nursing profession attracted my interest because it offers many of opportunities to make a difference in peoples’ lives. Nurses are on the frontline of patient care and have the opportunity to shape the future health of many people.
Who inspired you to become a nurse?
My mom has always been the most influential person in my life and she is the one who first suggested that I look into the nursing profession. Nursing fits well with what I want to do in life: to empower others through advocating social justice in the healthcare field.
Tell us a little bit more about your career.
After I finished school, I was offered positions in many different locations, but I decided to work in Seattle in order to stay closer to my family. I have been working as an Operating Room Nurse for two and half years, starting at the same time I began graduate school. OR nursing is a very challenging field, and my interest has largely been in surgery. According to the nurse recruiter, the residency program is so rigorous that the last time they hired a new graduate in the Operating Room was over twelve years ago. Despite this daunting task ahead of me, I accepted the challenge of this residency program while simultaneously starting graduate studies.
What do you love about WSU College of Nursing?
The WSU-CON brought out the best in me. Coming from a different culture and being new to this country, I was perpetually surprised by the fresh challenges I had to face in adjusting to life here. However, WSU-CON provided a friendly environment for me and others to grow and reach our full potential. The professors are well engaged with their students and are strongly committed to each student’s success. I have attended many schools but WSU-CON was the first to offer a simultaneously positive, academically rigorous, and diverse environment. At WSU-CON, innovation, technology, and human touch come together to deliver the most effective nursing education and care. With the exceptional methods of teaching, students here are equipped to face the real world of nursing profession.
How did WSU prepare you for your career?
WSU-CON prepared me in many different ways to be competitive in the nursing world. First, I was provided with top-notch professors who are fully capable of nurturing their students both in and out of the classroom. The academic structures of our classes were rigorous and have prepared us to meet the current challenges in the practice of nursing. Professors at WSU-CON do not only develop a student’s academic strength, but also help mold a student’s whole being into a responsible global citizen.
Who is your favorite faculty and why?
I love the entire faculty at WSU-CON. They all invested so much time, effort, and support so that I can be successful. I love Debbie Brinker, Linda Rahn, Naomi Lungstrom, Sue Perkins, Laura Wintersteen-Arleth, Tina Bayne, Anne Hirsh, Renae Richter, Theresa Barenz, Christine Brown, and Billie Severtsen. All of them knew my story and were committed to my success! I owe them who I am right now.
What advice would you give to new nursing students just starting at the college?
Be prepared as early as you can. First of all, study hard and strive for good grades, as Nursing is a very challenging major. Second, find your interest in nursing and build on it by doing something related to it outside of school. For example, if you wanted to do community nursing, spare some time to volunteer or join organizations that cater to community works. Additionally, request a placement at a practicum site of the type of nursing you wish to be. Third, seek as many mentors as you can and network with a lot of professionals. This can help you be prepared when you get out in the real world. Getting your degree is not enough to be marketable when you get out of school. Take advantage of the many resources the WSU-CON offers, such as being involved in leadership, mentorship, and networking.
What are your future nursing career goals?
To be a world-class leader by reaching out around the globe to face the challenges of the ever-changing healthcare system.
To be an advocate of everyone’s right to access basic healthcare regardless of his or her race, background, social status, and origin. My ultimate vision is to eliminate health disparities in the global community; I firmly believe that we are all entitled to basic healthcare.
Using a few words or short phrases, describe what makes a Cougar nurse.
Being a Cougar Nurse is someone who is globally competent, responsible, and accountable to his or her own actions.