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Baccalaureate Student Nestor Chavez's Path to Nursing

Nestor Chavez, BSN student from Heber City, believes one of the prerequisites for becoming a good nurse is an appreciation for dark humor.


Chavez appreciates the many career choices he will have as a nurse

Chavez became interested in the field of nursing because of the many pathways a nursing degree could lead him down. Chavez appreciates that he will have many career choices as a nurse, and enjoys the life-long learning and dedication that it takes to be successful in the field. “You’re always learning,” exclaims Chavez. An added benefit for Chavez is the job security that nursing can provide. As there is a nursing shortage in the United States, the profession is among the top growing occupations.

Science combined with empathy is Chavez’s natural calling

Chavez’s favorite aspect of nursing is science. Pharmacology, pathophysiology, biology, chemistry, and genetics are just some of the topics he enjoys learning about in class. “I have a big heart for the unfortunate, the sick, the hurt, and the vulnerable,” says Chavez. “Science combined with Empathy is my natural calling.” He recognizes that nurses often deal with morbid topics and situations, and thinks “one of the prerequisites to being a good nurse is an appreciation of dark humor.”

A potential future in critical care nursing

When thinking about his future career in the field, Chavez is interested in critical care nursing. “I am interested in being a critical care nurse because of the high acuity, constant critical thinking, and responsibility it takes to work in the intensive care unit or emergency room,” explains Chavez. However, he is still exploring all of the career pathways nursing has to offer. “To be honest, I am open to anything,” he says.


The University of Utah College of Nursing gives Chavez the support he needs

Chavez chose to attend the University of Utah College of Nursing because of the positive learning environment and support given to students. “The faculty and staff are definitely the best in the state of Utah,” says Chavez. “As a first generation American and student, guidance and support are crucial for my success.” 

Overcoming illness, familial distress, and hardship

“I think the most difficult hardships I’ve overcome are being a son of undocumented immigrants, having a sick younger brother, and being chronically ill myself,” says Chavez.

Last year, Chavez experienced low-grade fevers, fainting, endocarditis, pericarditis, nausea, vomiting, severe joint pain, and muscle aches. Despite being inundated with a mysterious list of symptoms, Chavez chose not to seek medical attention because he was uninsured and low-income. “The fear of having my parents deported while being sick was petrifying,” says Chavez.

After finally being diagnosed with Adult-Onset Still’s Disease, Chavez left the College of Nursing only two weeks into his prelicensure baccalaureate program to focus on his health. Two months later, Chavez suffered another devastating blow when his brother was diagnosed with Superior Mesenteric Artery Syndrome (SMAS). “My limited medical knowledge put me in a daunting situation where I as the older brother and only medically oriented person in the family, had to find internal medicine doctors, surgeons, and other specialties to find a solution,” says Chavez. “I also had to deal with insurance, which is another despairing process.” He is still gathering medical funding and finding a surgeon to treat his younger brother’s SMAS.

“There will be barriers and obstacles, but you must never lose faith. If you really want to be a nurse, nothing will stop you,” relays Chavez. “Like the great Dory from Finding Nemo says ‘Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming.’”

Chavez kept swimming, and is now on track to receive his Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree in the fall of 2021.

Chavez wants nursing students to focus on self-care

As someone who has dealt with physical and mental health issues, Chavez urges future and current nursing students to practice self-care. “This is a long journey so please don’t burnout before you get to nursing school. Take breaks, take care of your health, eat healthy, and most of all go to the doctor when something isn’t right. Trust your gut if you know something is wrong with your physical or mental health,” advises Chavez. “Self-care is important for everyone, including Nurses. You don’t want to get to the finish line and then be too tired to begin your career as a nurse.”