Community Care, In and Out of the Clinic

Nursing alumnus takes his skills from the clinic to the fire station

Overcoming challenges helps health care providers grow as individuals and allows them to serve patients in exciting, new capacities. Every day, providers like Clarkson College alumnus Bruno Caro ('15), RN, BSN choose to confront the challenges they face and take action. Caro’s decision to utilize his nursing skills to pursue a different career path—that of a firefighter—has led to his growth into a better, more competent nurse.

From the clinic…

Born in San Diego, Cal., Caro came to Omaha in 2008. He earned the Gateway to Success Scholarship for Minority Nursing Students from Clarkson College and completed his Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree in 2015. Caro chose to return to his alma mater to earn his Master’s degree in Nursing and hopes to complete the Family Nurse Practitioner program option in 2020. Following graduation, he plans to continue to provide care at One World Community Health Center in Omaha, where he currently practices.

Caro’s involvement with One World began over ten years ago, long before he completed his nursing education. The organization provides a wide range of health care services to individuals in the Omaha and surrounding area regardless of their income or insurance coverage. One World also treats a large number of underserved populations including Spanish-speaking patients, a group that Caro, as a bilingual English and Spanish speaker, can serve exceptionally well.

Growing up as a bilingual speaker in a somewhat impoverished area of San Diego instilled in Caro a determination to help others like him. Once he decided on a profession in the medical field, he found nursing to be a perfect fit. “It’s always been inherent in me to help those in need,” he said. “The nursing field seemed to align perfectly with my values and professional aspirations.”

However, saving lives and helping those in need weren’t the only aspects of the field that appealed to Caro. According to him, nursing offers an approach to medicine that other fields don’t. “I chose the nursing field because of the profession’s holistic approach to medical care,” he said.

It is an approach that Caro has the ability to utilize every day with his patients at One World, many of whom have little to no access to health care or community health resources prior to their visits. Working with these underserved populations allows providers like Caro the opportunity to address nearly every aspect of a patient’s health, from treating symptoms to providing preventative care. It has also enabled him to hear and understand the struggles and challenges that his patients face. One such issue, that of language barriers, was a challenge that Caro decided to help alleviate.

…to the Station

Caro's experience with Spanish-speaking patients and his desire to help others and give back to the community inspired him to explore a career path with the Omaha Fire Department. “I noticed an immense disconnect between first responders and the Latino community while working in south Omaha at the One World Community Health Center,” he said. “As a Latino and a bilingual nurse, I had a strong desire to be somebody that members of the community could identify with during an emergency call.”

Caro began his training as a firefighter in January 2018 at Omaha Fire Station 31. Over the past year, he has volunteered and trained at the station while working as an emergency medical technician (EMT) for the city of Omaha and caring for patients at One World. While seemingly overwhelming to most, Caro is grateful for the knowledge and experiences that each role offers.  “I am fortunate to be part of two very distinct aspects of medicine, emergency care and chronic medical care,” he said. “Coming into the profession of firefighting with a nursing background helped me tremendously in the medical treatment of patients out in the field.”

According to Caro, his training as a nurse is invaluable as he transitions to his role as a firefighter. The skills that he learned as a nurse are directly applicable to the emergency response field, which bolsters his ability to help those he serves. “Being a nurse gave me the ability to think critically,” he said. “When responding to a fire, that can mean the difference between life and death.”

Similarly, training in the emergency response field benefits him as a health care provider, and he hopes to use his new skills to provide patients with more comprehensive care. “My training as an EMT and firefighter is preparing me to be a better nurse by allowing me to have a well-rounded knowledge of medicine as it relates to emergency medical care,” he said. “As a future nurse practitioner, this will be a valuable asset when treating patients.”

For Caro, it’s all about the patients. Serving those in need, whether in the clinic or on the street, is a privilege that he gets to experience in each of his professional roles. He embraces every challenge as an opportunity to grow in his ability to provide the best possible care to those in his community.