TSC Nursing Alum at COVID-19 Epicenter

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Texas Border Business

Raul Silva is a Texas Southmost College Registered Nursing alumnus who has dedicated his career to helping others, and for the past month has been at the COVID-19 epicenter in New York.

The Brownsville native graduated from TSC with an associate degree in nursing in 2017 after completing his vocational nursing certificate at Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen.

“Nursing wasn’t always in my sights,” said the 26-year-old. “But when I visited an emergency room in high school with my medical magnet class, I was hooked. The fast-paced nature of the profession amazed me. And here I am.” 

After graduating from TSC, Silva moved to Houston and has worked as an emergency room nurse in Harris County since then, while also pursuing a bachelor’s degree in nursing. 

As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded and he realized the shortage of medical staff New York was experiencing, he made the decision to put his education and life in Houston on hold to join the efforts in fighting the coronavirus. 

“It was not an easy conversation to have with my family,” he said. “But my nursing instincts kicked in and they understood why I had to do this. Like I explained to them, I was already on the front lines in Houston, this was the same thing, just a different state.” 

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Silva said the process from applying to making the move was quick – three to four days. 

He joined a social media group specific to nursing, submitted his qualifications and experiences and immediately received seven to eight offers.

Silva said his decision was based primarily on safety and who could offer the most personal protective equipment.

“Safety is a priority for me,” he said. “I’ve been cautious about safety, eating right and taking my vitamins because since being in New York, my entire perspective about this virus has changed.”

Silva is currently working at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, a post-COVID-19 center where patients go for rehabilitation after being removed from a ventilator and released from the hospital. 

“This virus does not discriminate. It doesn’t matter what age or what underlying condition you have or not. It’s attacking everyone and to see people my age close to death has been eye opening,” he said. “We get the patients who are being weaned off oxygen and need to relearn how to breathe and basically move again. They have a long road to recovery.”

Silva’s contract is for eight weeks and said he hopes to return home soon, but not before getting tested and quarantining when arriving in Houston to ensure he doesn’t spread the virus to those he loves.

“I need to do this to give myself peace of mind upon returning,” he said. “This virus progresses quickly and I want to keep everyone safe. In fact, I urge everyone to take precautions. This is nothing to take lightly.” 

He added that he credits TSC’s training for giving him the experience he needs to not only work in an ER setting, but also be able to play a helpful role during the pandemic.

“TSC gives us the confidence we need to push forward in this career,” said Silva. “We get a full understanding of the overall picture of patient care and [the program] teaches us team care, communication and leadership – all of which allow us to face this field head on and help where we are needed.”

Silva still intends to graduate with his bachelor’s degree in nursing, even if it was postponed from Fall 2020 to Spring 2021 since he moved to New York.

He also plans to earn a specialized certification as an ER nurse and earn a master’s degree in nursing to become a nursing educator, while maintaining his active membership in the National Association of Hispanic Nurses. 

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