uc irvine school of nursing alum tori romero works at children's hospital los angeles CHLA

Our weekly Alumni Spotlight series features updates on the outstanding graduates of the UCI Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing. Tori Romero, MEPN class of 2019, shares her experiences.

Where do you currently work?

Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

What is your title?

Registered Nurse II, Newborn and Infant Critical Care Unit

How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your life?

Beginning my first year of nursing in a pandemic has taught me the skill of adaptability. Each day we experienced a new email with changes and updates as our hospital, statewide officials, and federal races to learn more about this disease.

The physical changes, such as wearing face masks and social distancing, were easier to cope with than the social isolation and hospital visitor restrictions. Working in a children’s hospital with visitor restrictions was especially saddening. Infants need their parents and women navigating postpartum need their infants. With only one visitor allowed, I could see the pandemic visibly impacting the support systems for these families and newborns.

However, I feel so blessed to have very little interaction with COVID itself as a disease due to the low occurrence in infants and the strict guidelines in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

The first year of nursing in a pandemic is something that will shape me for the rest of my career, but I am hopeful I will be a stronger nurse for it. 

What initially drew you to the nursing profession?

In high school I told my parents I would be a doctor, but my family didn’t know any doctors for me to ask questions.

My mom’s friend at the time was a neonatal intensive care nurse in LA and she said I could shadow her. I only shadowed her for two hours while she took care of a 24-week old infant. From that day on, I was set on being a neonatal intensive care nurse.

I initially thought of entering the medical field as my profession because of its rewarding nature. Throughout nursing school and in my career, I now see the value of being a nurse and the connections each day that are developed.

During the COVID-19 pandemic I feel that this part of nursing, being there for others in their time of need, has become very important to the families I care for. It’s hard to put into words how truly special it is to be a nurse. 

What do you love most about being a nurse?

Nursing is a very complex profession. I love how in a neonatal ICU setting, each day can highlight a different side of nursing. There are intense and stressful emergencies, carefully navigated news given, sadness, joy, listening and educating.

The joy of working with new parents is the ability to make a huge impact by simply just showing them how to hold their infant, or listening to their fears about motherhood or their child’s diagnosis.

Being a nurse means so much to me, because every day I am challenged to grow deeper in my education and profession. I think this goes without saying, but I love being a neonatal nurse because sometimes I do just get to hold and soothe a very cute baby!