Some things have not changed for Ariel Aguirre, RN. She is still a natural caretaker, looking after everyone around her. And she can still be seen hanging with friends around the South Bay. But some things have not stayed exactly the same.
As a child, Aguirre bandaged teddy bears and rehabilitated dolls. When her grandmother was diagnosed with cancer, she was there for every stage of treatment. Fast-forward to today, and she is a nurse caring for patients at Torrance Memorial— on a surgical unit specializing in caring for patients recovering from bariatric weight-loss surgery.
As a young girl, she enjoyed activities with friends at Torrance High School—she was involved in choir, jazz choir and even earned a scholarship from the Torrance Craftmen’s Guild. Today she has fun going with friends for pizza or Italian food at Manhattan Pizzeria by the beach or Lomeli’s Restaurant in Gardena—or getting $1 reads at Bookoff in the Del Amo Mall.
Aguirre began working at Torrance Memorial in August as part of the Versant RN Residency, a program which transitions newly graduated student nurses into working professional RNs. Her shifts are 12 hours, three days a week, and she typically cares for five patients at a time.
“I absolutely love my job,” says Aguirre. “I take pride in taking care of my patients and being an advocate for them.”
For Aguirre, Torrance Memorial has been a second home her entire life. “I was born at Torrance Memorial. My grandmother worked at Torrance Memorial for many years and loved her job,” she says.
As a high school student, Aguirre volunteered in the Escort Services, a service area that runs errands across the medical center. So landing her first job at the hospital was a dream. “I wanted to be nowhere else. Torrance feels like home to me,” adds Aguirre.
Always a good student, Aguirre graduated from Torrance High with a 4.2 GPA and then went on to El Camino College to get her prerequisites for nursing. In addition, she also received a scholarship from Torrance Memorial. She graduated cum laude—and as an inductee to the International Honor Society of Nursing—from Loma Linda University School of Nursing.
As it has for so many others, volunteering at Torrance Memorial had a great impact on Aguirre and her future career choice. She volunteered until she received her bachelor’s degree.
As an Escort volunteer, Aguirre worked every Thursday helping to discharge patients, delivering packages and running errands as needed. She made strong connections with others in the program. Now she really enjoys working as a nurse on Thursdays so she can call on her old volunteer colleagues to discharge her patients.
“I will always encourage people to volunteer at Torrance Memorial,” says Aguirre. “It was extremely fun and gratifying. You feel like you are a part of something bigger than yourself. You are the ‘hands and feet’ of the hospital. It also helped me really solidify my wish to go into nursing. I got to observe what happens in a hospital firsthand, and I knew nursing was for me.”
Aguirre knows that being a nurse comes with highs and lows. She loves being a part of making a difference in a patient’s life. But there are obstacles, such as encountering a patient who is disoriented and trying to communicate with and comfort them. But she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I absolutely love my job at Torrance Memorial. I hope to have a very long career here and to always bring my talents to help patients have the best experience possible at Torrance Memorial,” she says.