“Front line soldiers.” That’s how Ruben Pena ‘12 describes the role of nurses. “Doctors plan the patient’s care, but nurses are in the thick of it and doing the day-to-day care,” he says.

That’s what makes the field so appealing to him. Pena, a psychology major from Asuncion, Paraguay, holds an internship at Regions Hospital in downtown St. Paul, 10 minutes by car from campus. He works as a nurse assistant in the intensive care, progressive care and oncology units. When he first began in July, Pena says he fumbled quite a bit, but after seven months, he says, “I still want to be a nurse. I still love doing this.”

Abnormal psychology at Macalester was one course that helped Pena understand what patients are feeling when dealing with potentially life-threatening diseases. “Having that insight has helped me a lot in being able to understand patients’ needs and calm them down,” he says.

His next step?  Pena will continue his education in a nursing master’s program, but his time on campus will stay with him. “Macalester has prepared me very well for it,” he says.

Pena is one of Macalester’s Davis United World College Scholars. He completed his high school degree at the Red Cross Nordic United World College in Norway. 

February 17 2012

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