Faces of Cedars-Sinai: Chiara Casas, Pediatric Nurse
Sep 30, 2017 Cedars-Sinai Staff
Registered nurse Chiara Casas went into nursing for two reasons: to connect with patients and make a difference in their lives.
Chiara knew on her first day of pediatric rotation that she wanted to work with children.
She was helping a 2-year-old patient when she had the epiphany.
"I knew right then and there that this is what I wanted to do," says Chiara. "My heart and soul are in pediatrics."
Chiara—who received her master's degree in nursing from UCLA—has been a full-time nurse at Cedars-Sinai for 2 years. In that time, Chiara has become a leader among her peers and a passionate advocate for patients.
She's the chair of Cedars-Sinai's Pediatric Unit Practice Council, a group of employees that meets monthly to enhance quality of care, and her patience and cheerful personality make her popular with patients.
"Frequently we'll see Chiara in the playroom or walking around the halls with our patients," says Courtnay Caufield, associate director of Pediatrics. Courtnay, who also is a nurse, says Chiara makes time for the little things, like helping patients with a coloring book, brushing their hair, watching a movie with them, or reading to them.
"She really connects with our kids not just as patients, but as regular people."
"It's hard for nurses to make time for the fun stuff, but Chiara does, and she really connects with our kids not just as patients, but as regular people," Courtnay continues.
That need to choose a career she's passionate about is in Chiara's blood. Her father was a Los Angeles Unified School District music teacher for 34 years and her mother was a writer for popular TV shows like Laverne and Shirley, Family Ties, The Jeffersons, and Cheers.
"My father loved his job, and that was so inspirational to me because I knew when I grew up I wanted to have that same feeling," says Chiara.
"My mother was one of the first females to be accepted into the American Film Institute. She followed her dreams and was a screenwriter for about 25 years. They both did what they loved and always told me to do the same."
Chiara knows she needs to find ways to make her patients and their families feel safe, comfortable, and cared for when they're in the hospital. This is why she keeps a Minnie Mouse flashlight—also known as her secret weapon—close by at all times.
"I use that flashlight to assess their eyes, but I always let them hold it first so they know what it is," she says. "The last thing a kid needs is to be scared about what you're doing with a bright light in their eye. The Minnie Mouse flashlight helps distract and calm them, even in the most challenging situations."
The hardest part about her job? She wishes she could spend even more time with her patients.
"There's a lot going on, and I've got a job to do and medications to give," she says. "But if I can find an extra 10 minutes to share with them, or find a reason to make them laugh, or get a smile out of them, I'll definitely take advantage of that."