Jessica Garcia - If you can dream it, you can become it

Jessica Garcia, RN, BSN, CIC, Director of Nursing, SLV Health Med/Surg & ICUJess on 3N at nurses station

Working at Jack’s Market and obsessed with high school basketball, Jessica Garcia passed up an early career opportunity to take a Certified Nurse Assistants (CNA) class because she wasn’t sure it would be a good fit for her. Born in Kansas City, Missouri, and later attending Del Norte elementary and graduating from Center high school, Jessica would never have dreamed of where she is today with her career. Attending CSU Pueblo on a scholarship to become an athletic trainer, she broke her ankle playing soccer and ended up withdrawing from school for a while.

Like many college-aged students, she spent some time in a “self-discovery” mode while working jobs like waiting tables, being a teacher assistant at Head Start, and road construction. As a single mom, the “being on the road” job was not going to be a good fit, so she finally started a CNA class, knowing there are a lot of job opportunities in the nursing profession. She got a job right away at Juniper Village in Monte Vista. To this day, she is still so thankful for the staff and leadership who were supportive of her working, raising a child with the help of her parents, as well as continuing her education to become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) and then a Registered Nurse (RN) at Trinidad State College at the Alamosa Campus. She graduated in 2012 and then pursued her online Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) through the University of Texas, Arlington.

Keeping her job at the long-term care center, she then joined the Rio Grande Hospital, working nights and weekends so she could spend days with her son. The staff at both Juniper and RGH were supportive of her educational endeavors. “This is one of the best qualities at San Luis Valley Health (SLVH), too, where the ‘grow your own’ and ‘employee education assistance’ are two excellent programs supporting health care staff who want to further their education and training,” Garcia commented.

Because of her growing interest in working in an ICU, she cut back on her hours at Juniper and started part-time at SLVH’s Regional Medical Center in Alamosa in 2015. She really liked working there and in the Emergency Department at RGH, but still had the drive to further her education and diversify her work experience. She became the Infection Prevention lead nurse at SLVH and then started up a Certification in Infection Prevention and Control program. Living in Alamosa and working a job with regular business hours suited her family lifestyle a lot better. “Some days, being a mom is a tougher job than being a nurse,” she laughed.jess Garcia

“My husband taught me how to ride a Harley and this was the time I started taking time for myself and my family a little more,” said Jess, as she acknowledged she really is a work-acholic. Taking on this role, she did not foresee the ensuing COVID-19 pandemic, where clear communication and collaboration with community partners became part of the new routine. As the pandemic started to wind down, she found herself exploring other roles at SLVH along with the idea of returning to school to become a Nurse Practitioner. She got accepted into the school program but has put that on hold while she conquers her new title, Director of Nursing for the SLVH RMC’s Med/Surg and ICU. “I never planned on having this role, but somehow the universe guides you if you are listening to it,” reflected Jessica Garcia, BSN, RN. “If you can dream it, you can become it.”

Jessica has taken care of an untold number of patients in the San Luis Valley and is appreciated by all who have been under her compassionate care or worked alongside this very dedicated employee.  During Nurse's Week 2022, this is just one nurse highlight story out of many others.  The community appreciates all the nurses and the journeys they took to get there!