Meet our February Nurses of the Month: Luis Caso and Vicente Figueroa

by Ryan Scott   For February Nurse of the Month, we decided to profile two of our nurses who are a couple. Meet Luis Caso and Vicente Figueroa, who talked to Ryan Scott about their travels, their nursing philosophy, their love of art, and their professional aspirations.    As a cool Arizona day gets started, I virtually settled in with Luis and Vicente, affectionately known as “The Boyz.”  I’m excited about this interview and have precariously balanced my laptop so they can see the painting in our boardroom behind me, but as fate would have it, moments before getting into our interview, my laptop froze, leaving us with an unexpectedly intimate – and hilariously audio-only conversation. Currently stationed at a Native American reservation in Arizona, Luis and Vicente radiated an infectious joy and warmth even through my pixelated and frozen screen. Their smiles hinted at an inner light sparkling between them, the natural rhythm two kindred souls develop after years together. After bonding over our mutual love of Puerto Rican cuisine, we dove into their inspiring story.   What brought you both to travel nursing with Tribal Health? What resonates with you about this specific organization and its mission? We have a friend who talked to us about her experience with another staffing company working with a Native American reservation. We noticed that what she was sharing with us was similar to mission work. We have been interested in doing some kind of missionary-related work. What resonates with us about the mission of Tribal Health is that we can have a significant impact on the communities we serve. We love for our patients to have a good experience under our care. We also enjoy customer service. Additionally, working with Tribal Health allows us to connect with our indigenous Taino heritage from Puerto Rico, which was mostly lost after colonization. How do you navigate the unique challenges and rewards of working as a married couple in a demanding field like travel nursing? We do not encounter a lot of challenges traveling as a couple, other than normal marriage issues. There are plenty of rewards – we have been able to travel more and visit different parts of the world including Spain, Portugal, Israel, Greece, Cyprus, Egypt, Turkey, Hawaii, the Bahamas, and more. In what ways do you support each other both personally and professionally while working as travel nurses? We have been a team for the past 14 years. We are each other’s cheerleaders but also each other’s biggest critics. At this point, supporting each other comes naturally. Outside of nursing, do you have any other professional endeavors or passions that you pursue? We belong to and are active in multiple nursing groups as a way to give back to the nursing community:
  • Emergency Nurses Association (ENA)
  • Florida Nurses Association (FNA)
  • Society of Internationally Educated Nurses of North America (SIENNA)
We also try to attend at least one big convention per year and are always enrolled in different courses for personal growth. What are your aspirations for the future, both individually and as a couple? Luis: To finish my doctoral degree and obtain some additional certifications and degrees related to management, leadership, and nursing development. I will likely transition to a position in that area, hopefully within Tribal Health. Vicente: To finish my nurse practitioner degree and eventual doctoral degree. I’d love to obtain my BCEN certifications for emergency nursing. As a couple: Continue investing in real estate and eventually establish a business in healthcare. What are some of the unique aspects of providing healthcare within tribal communities? What are the greatest challenges and opportunities you encounter? The people we have interacted with have been very grateful for our help. It has been a very rewarding experience to work with the communities in Oglala Sioux Tribe and here with the Tohono O’odham Nation. A major challenge is the health disparities that exist, but we are glad to work for a company focused on addressing these issues. There is room for improvement in preventative medicine and education. The US healthcare system overall lacks innovation compared to European countries. How do you collaborate with other healthcare professionals and community members to provide holistic care for your patients? We have established true connections with coworkers, staff, and community members. We know many by name, have traded recipes, and learned about the culture. For Vicente, connecting with Tribal communities allows him to get in touch with his indigenous Taino roots from Puerto Rico. What are your personal learning goals or areas you hope to develop further as travel nurses with Tribal Health? We recently decided to pursue all of the Board Certifications for Emergency Nursing. Luis successfully achieved his Certified Emergency Nurse credential and Nurse Executive certification. Vicente will pursue his CEN certification in 2024. What are some of the joys and challenges of traveling and exploring new places together? Joys: Making connections, learning about cultures, seeing amazing sights, and experiencing a variety of food. Challenges: The snow and remote locations can be quite shocking coming from Puerto Rico.     How do you maintain a sense of home and connection with loved ones while living a nomadic lifestyle? Since we travel together, it’s easy to maintain a sense of home. We miss family back in Puerto Rico, but our work schedule allows us to visit Florida at least once a month. When we do visit Puerto Rico, we dedicate most of our time to family activities. FaceTime helps us stay connected as well.   What is your best piece of advice for aspiring travel nurses? Vicente: Be humble. Luis: Get an accountant! You want to keep your taxes in order. As a travel nurse, you may need to file taxes in multiple states. *******   As our conversation winded down, I realized there was much more to learn about Luis and Vicente’s travels, passions, and future goals. Their commitment to nursing, helping others, and each other was truly inspirational. Though our time was limited, the warmth and joy they exuded made me feel like I was catching up with long-lost friends. I look forward to sharing more of their story soon. But for now, I will let their inspiring outlook and words sink in, carrying that human heartbeat that connects us all.    

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