UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center Magazine Fall 2016 - Page 22

“I’m humbled every day I come in. It’s the patient care. It’s working with these families. If I can make their stay this much better, it’s not a bad day. It’s a great day.” 20 U A B UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center Magazine: Why did you decide to become a nurse? Were you always interested in the medical field? Laura Leal: When I graduated from high school, I was originally thinking pre-med because I had always been interested in the medical field. I was a gymnast my entire life, and I’ve broken more things and seen more orthopedic surgeons than anyone should see in their lifetime. I had an orthopedic surgeon who invited me to shadow him when he learned about my interest in medicine. So I did a co-op program in high school, and every morning before school I was able to go to a local hospital and watch every surgery they did, which was awesome. I was at Auburn University, and I was pre-med/ pre-vet, because I enjoyed veterinary medicine, but I leaned more toward medicine. I was in microbiology and was having a difficult time. I’m not a lab person. I’m very much a person who wants to help people. I’m a caregiver. So I looked into nursing, thinking I could always go back to the medical school route. Once my nursing journey started, I never looked back. It was an “a-ha” moment! C O M P R E H E N S I V E C A N C E R C E N T E R UAB CCC: What brought you to UAB? LL: I actually finished at Auburn University- Montgomery because they have an outstanding nursing program. I decided if I stayed in Alabama, I wanted to work at either UAB or Children’s of Alabama. I had a professor who encouraged me to do my preceptorship with the adult population. So I was matched with the liver transplant unit at UAB. I was exposed to a very caring environment there. Whatever you could do for patients and their families, that’s what was expected. There happened to be a position on that floor when I graduated. I applied for it, and I’ve been here almost nine years. UAB CCC: What do you do as an assistant nurse manager? LL: As assistant nurse manager, I’m the biggest resource on my floor, or at least I should be. I feel like the more information I know to give to patients to ease their stay but also improve outcomes, the better. If I can be the best resource for my staff and my patients, it helps take my stress level down, and I feel that I’m doing the very best I can. I’m also getting my master’s degree in the clinical nurse