When he saved the life of someone who was drowning, Vicente Piccio felt something inside that he had not felt before. At the age of 18, his experience in a most dramatic way proved he could help others.
That feeling of confidence and inspiration to help others continues today – 20 years later - as a registered nurse for inpatient Therapy Services at Carle Foundation Hospital.
One of two nationally certified registered nurses at Carle Foundation Hospital inpatient rehabilitation unit, Piccio is also one of four of the inaugural nurses who arrived from the Philippines 20 years ago to supplement the nursing staff at Carle through an international nurses hiring program.
“The work culture here is such that anyone would be happy to be here,” he said.
He was a senior faculty member teaching nursing classes in pathophysiology and pharmacology at West Visayas State University in the Philippines when Carle representatives came to his school and talked about what they could offer to individuals wanting to be a nurse in the U.S. In the Philippines, access to healthcare is so difficult it’s common for a member of the family to go into healthcare to care for family members. But licensed nurses are not paid for the work they do, he said. In fact, modern hospitals require nurses to pay to work there, he said.
“My first patient was my father who had a stroke with a healthcare system where there was no speech therapists and no rehabilitation units, he said.
Piccio earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing in 1991 at the age of 20 and started as a faculty member as a lecturer at the university right away. He said it took two years to finish both the U.S. license application and the immigration process, but he could not turn away from an opportunity to be a paid nurse and “earn the due professional respect and dignity nurses deserve.”
Carle Health strives to bring recognition and professional development opportunities to support the diversity of nurses critical to care teams. Nurses like Picco who are nationally certified in their service area bring an elevated level of expertise to patient care while extending the knowledge to the organization.
While he had the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree in his home country, he then passed required spoken and written exams in English to gain a nursing license in the U.S. Nurses from the Philippines have an advantage over nurses from other countries wanting to go to the U.S. because they use the same textbooks as nursing students in the U.S.
Joyful and energetic, Piccio believes helping patients with physical therapy needs is his calling. “I love the bedside.”
In 2003 when he arrived at Carle, the identification badge employees at Carle wore said, “you’ve come to the right place,” and Piccio said no truer words speak to his experience.