Paper names Caroline Abesames one of Wyoming's Top Nurses
By Kristy Bleizeffer May 6, 2020
“Cai is the sort of nurse who has literally held her patients hand and sang with them to brighten their day. She is the sort of nurse who can do a bunch of little things to brighten your day and make you comfortable, but when the time comes will also save your life.” — Aberdeen LaPlume
Congratulations to Caroline (Cai) Abesames, R.N., for being named one of Wyoming's Top Nurses by the Casper Star-Tribune.
In celebration of National Nurses Week, the Casper Star-Tribune selected 10 Wyoming nurses for the honor, and eight of them work at Wyoming Medical Center.
Caroline is a registered nurse on our Progressive Care Unit, and she was nominated by her co-worker Aberdeen LaPlume.
"She always has a smile on her face and is someone who's warm energy makes you feel that no matter what, she's go your back," Aberdeen wrote in her nomination letter. "When times get stressful and overwhelming, Cai somehow always knows what to do to make it better."
Read more about Caroline and her career in the interview below.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A NURSE?
I’ve been a nurse for 15 years. I started my career in my hometown province in The Philippines where I worked as an ER and ICU nurse before immigrating to Wyoming and eventually joining the Progressive Care Unit team at Wyoming Medical Center.
WHAT TYPE OF NURSING DO YOU PRACTICE?
I am what’s called a telemetry nurse in the Progressive Care Unit. Our floor is known for handling patients with heart conditions such as those who have undergone open heart surgery. We’re trained to monitor their vital signs with electrocardiograms and other types of technical equipment.
I had dreams of becoming a cardiologist and while that didn’t happen, I did spend a chunk of my career back in The Philippines training with a cardiologist. I was extremely fascinated by their work and it only deepened my love for it. It only made sense that I ended up in the PCU.
WHEN DID YOU FIRST BECOME INTERESTED IN MEDICINE, AND WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO BECOME A NURSE?
Nursing wasn’t always my first choice. I got pregnant with my eldest daughter fairly young and at the time, I was actually enrolled in a hotel and restaurant management program at a Catholic university in Manila. I was unfortunately forced to drop out because of it, seeing as my being pregnant out of wedlock was against “university values.”
When my daughter was 2, I decided that I wanted to get back on the college train and get my degree for her. My husband’s family offered to help out with the costs on the condition that I took the nursing program. Their reasoning behind it was that one day, I’d be able to leave and work abroad, opening up opportunities not only for myself but for my family, as well.
It all worked out in the end. I fell in love with nursing even before I started my internship. It was an uphill battle for sure, but it was all worth it and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. I live and work in Wyoming now, so does my husband and both of my children so despite it all, there was some truth in what my in-laws said.
DO OTHER MEMBERS IN YOUR FAMILY WORK IN HEALTH CARE?
I do have a fair amount of relatives who work in the healthcare industry. I’ve got a cousin who’s a doctor, three more who are nurses, as well as an aunt and uncle who are nurses, too. There’s a running joke about how there’s no better place to drop and get ill than in a room full of Filipinos--half of them probably work in health care!
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB, AND WHAT ARE SOME CHALLENGES YOU FACE?
My patients, of course! Whether that’s getting to witness their recovery process, seeing them back on their feet, or comforting them as they go through the thick--I’m grateful for it all. The job of a nurse is already very technical, a case by case basis that you have to handle with the utmost care, and for good reason, we deal with real people in precarious situations all the time; you have to be aware and quick on your feet. However, it’s also important that you consider their feelings, and no, I don’t mean on a scale of rate-your-pain. There needs to be that buffer, that connection with them, otherwise it can seem like a very cold job.
As for the challenges I face in my job, I get mistaken a lot for a new grad, occasionally making patients, or their family members, assume that I’m not as skilled or knowledgeable as my coworkers. It’s somehow both frustrating and a compliment at the same time. There’s also the matter of my ethnicity and the fact that English isn’t my native language. Of course there are times when I’d hear the occasional ignorant comment from a patient but I’ve learned to brush it off as I take it, there’s work to be done, in the moment, that’s far more important. It’s also not the standard of my relationships with my patients; the number of kind and lovely people that I’ve met through my job outweigh the stragglers
WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE A GOOD NURSE, IN YOUR OPINION?
A whole lot of heart and dedication; the need to be of service to people you don’t know. I think it can be as simple as that. As long as you love it and give it everything you’ve got when you’re donning that badge, then you’re probably a pretty great nurse.
What advice would you give new nurses or those considering a career in nursing?
Always think about the good of the patient. Even when you’re worked down to the bone, even when it feels like a thankless job--and it’ll feel like that a lot--just remember that you went into it, or are going into it, not for personal gratification but to genuinely help.
DO YOU STILL LIKE BEING A NURSE?
Absolutely. I love my job, I can’t imagine not doing the work that I do now. When I think of retiring, I dread it more than anything, though I have a sneaking suspicion I’ll still find myself doing some sort of work related to it.
AS A REGIONAL REFERRAL CENTER, WYOMING MEDICAL CENTER COVERS ABOUT 250,000 WYOMING LIVES. WE PROTECT THE HEALTH OF OUR FRIENDS, NEIGHBORS, COMMUNITY AND STATE. HOW DOES THIS MAKE YOU FEEL?
I think that’s absolutely incredible and I feel very proud to be a part of the service that Wyoming Medical Center provides for our state. It’s a great feeling knowing that I work for an institution that has positively impacted the lives of so many, people that I pass by at the grocery have more than likely gotten care in one of our facilities, even my granddaughter was born here!
HOW DOES IT MAKE YOU FEEL TO KNOW THAT A COLLEAGUE OR PATIENT NOMINATED YOU FOR THIS HONOR?
I was so shocked and humbled to know that someone out there believed me to be worthy enough of the nomination. It’s not something I ever imagined happening though it’s very reassuring and gives me a sense of validation that the work that I do is good. I can name a handful of other nurses who deserve it as well so I feel very blessed to have been chosen.
ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO ADD OR WOULD LIKE YOUR COLLEAGUES TO KNOW?
I just want to say thank you to my colleagues, they’ve all in one form or another, helped me throughout working here. I owe a lot to them.
Specifically though, I want to extend my thanks to my manager, Lana, who hired me. I quite literally would not have this job or be among the best team if not for her.
I also want to thank Tami, Mickey, and Heather, my senior nurses, for training me and being so wonderful.
To Natt, Mischelle, Nikki, Lisa, Jennifer P., Regine, Courtney, Liz, Ashley, Theresa, Aubrey, Melissa, Jenny, Autumn, Makenzie, Nicole, Parker, Jessica, Jennifer H., thank you for your friendship and I’ve enjoyed learning and growing with you all.
And of course, to my family: my husband, Lester, who’s been my rock through it all, my nine-year-old, Bielle, my eldest, Lauren, and my granddaughter, Isla, all of whom give me the drive to get up and go to work every day.
Wyoming Medical Center's Top Nurses
Eight of the 10 Top Nurses honored by the Casper Star-Tribune in 2020 are from Wyoming Medical Center. Read their interviews in the links below.