We know our nurses work hard – and we are always looking for ways to honor the many nurses on Team Tribal who go above and beyond every day. So in honor of Nurses Month, we’re launching a new feature: our Nurse of the Month Spotlight!
Our inaugural Nurse of the Month will be a familiar face to our Southern Arizona teams – Nena Duenas, a nurse who is highly praised by her colleagues and her patients, and who loves providing care on Indigenous lands.
Hi Nena! Can you tell us why you became a nurse?
I initially wanted to become a paramedic to help people; I loved the idea of the adrenaline rush. I started my healthcare career as an EMT, and landed my first job as a PCT in the ED. I found a love for patient care and had the opportunity to go to nursing school instead.
What motivated you to provide care in Tribal nations?
Working in the same place for 21 years, I found myself at a point in my career in need for change. I was previously a Prehospital Coordinator and worked with the EMS division out in Sells.
The Chief introduced the idea in working for a critical access hospital such as Sells. I loved the idea and reached out to Tribal Health. After speaking with the recruiter, I thought it would be a great fit and have been here in Sells since August.
What is the most gratifying aspect of your job?
I have found a new love for taking care of pediatric patients. It can be scary taking care of kids; depending on their age, they don’t talk, they can’t tell you what hurts, why they’re crying etc. They are little, fragile, and vulnerable.
But working out in Sells has brought so much joy to my heart when I gain their trust and they let me do simple things such place pulse ox on them or get their temperature without crying. It feels even more rewarding when we can make them feel better and relieve their asthmatic symptoms.
What advice do you have for other nurses providing care on Indigenous lands?
Take the time to understand their culture. It will help you better understand them and help you be able to care for them.
What do you like to do in your free time?
In my free time, I love to hike, stay fit, take small trips and go glamping with our dog, and go to the ocean.