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Laura Leal

Registered Nurse, 6+ years

I’ve been working at CGH as a registered nurse since 2015. For the last two years, I have worked in the Post Anesthesia Care Unit where I help people recover from surgery and transition to our discharge area to go home. I love that I get to make a difference every day by giving patients the best care possible because I enjoy what I do and am able to put their care first. But my story of how I got here is quite different than many of the nurses you’ll find at CGH. Their tuition reimbursement program helped me achieve my dream of becoming a nurse as an older adult, and for that, I’m forever grateful.

The road to achieving a long-time dream

My career at CGH actually started in the 1990s, shortly after I graduated high school. I worked part-time in the Central Supply department for about a year before moving to the Diagnostic Imaging department as a patient aide. In this role, I was fearless. I would transfer patients to and from the department without hesitation, met some amazing people, and learned a lot. I even started studying to become a radiologic technologist. But as many young adults do, my plans detoured. I decided to stop attending college, got married, and looked for full-time work.

During my time away from CGH, both my parents were diagnosed with cancer. I met so many great nurses who helped care for them. One nurse told me that I should really give a career in nursing some thought because I was a natural at it… which planted the seed for becoming the nurse I am today.

In December 2011, the business I had worked at for 16 years closed. It ended up being a blessing in disguise though. By January 2012, I was back to school full time and accepted into a program that helped me to pay for my general education courses and nursing school. I graduated in May 2015 and started working as a circulating nurse in the operating room at CGH.

Loving life at CGH

The thing I love most about working at CGH is I can go into almost any department and feel welcomed. Everyone is kind and very helpful. I also think there are a lot of growth opportunities here. In addition to earning my Bachelor’s degree, I also volunteer my time on various committees such as the Daisy committee that selects our quarterly Daisy winner, and I joined a branch of shared governance that helps nurses with awards, recognition, and wellness.

Working at CGH has also helped my family feel more financially secure after both my husband and I lost our jobs due to business closures. CGH has been around for a very long time, and in my opinion, they are always looking for ways to grow and give high-quality care. That makes it a great place to work.

CGH also offers many employee benefits. One of my favorites is the family health insurance coverage because it is very affordable. I also enjoy the perk of the employee pharmacy and the flexibility of working within a smaller department.

Passing on the passion for helping others

Because I achieved my dream of becoming a nurse, I was able to physically show my children that no matter how old you are or how long it takes you, you can make anything happen. My oldest daughter Sierra graduated from Illinois State University in May 2021. My youngest daughter Sydnei is working on her general education classes. And my son Ruben is following after me. He just finished his first year of nursing school at Sauk Valley Community College and will graduate as an RN in 2023.