Paula Cruz is a registered nurse in the Colorectal and Pelvic Malformation Center at Boston Children’s Hospital. The center treats children with complex colorectal and pelvic conditions, including anorectal malformations, cloacal deformities, and cloacal exstrophy. In addition to treatments such as surgical procedures and medical management, the center offers a bowel management program for children who are unable to anticipate or control their bowel activity.
What does your job involve?
I work with patients and their families on a day-to-day basis. I’m usually the initial person to gather data from a full chart review on new patients, which I then communicate with our team. I also coordinate care with various specialties, such as general surgery, urology, neurosurgery, and gynecology. I work with patients throughout the whole spectrum — from working in the outpatient setting, to assisting the inpatient staff, to preparing patients for their upcoming surgeries, and then supporting patients during their postoperative recovery.
Why did you choose to work at Boston Children’s?
I chose to work here because I wanted to surround myself with people who also choose to help others, especially children. As a pediatric nurse, I always hear people say, “It takes someone special to be able to work in this field” — but I believe it takes a special multidisciplinary team to make a difference and to provide the best care to every patient.
What’s the hardest part of your job?
The hardest part about my job is how unique our patients are — but this also makes it the best part. Every day, I encounter varying challenges within the same specialty of colorectal and pelvic malformations. As a former operating room nurse, I appreciate seeing the individuality of every patient. Each patient has taught me how to be flexible and how to think outside of the box. This means I get to learn something new every day!
What’s one of your favorite memories from working with families?
One of my favorite memories is getting a hug from a patient after a bowel management week, during which we worked daily with her and her family to find a regimen that worked well for them. She thanked me for my support throughout the week. Now, she can go to school in underwear rather than diapers and won’t have to worry about having any accidents.
Tell us something about you that might surprise us.
I was born in the Philippines, but when I was 2 months old, my family migrated to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where I lived for nine years. We then migrated to Massachusetts. As a child, I learned how to speak English and Tagalog fluently, as well as some Arabic. I am lucky to have had the ability to travel and see the world at a young age. This definitely led me to love traveling and getting to know different cultures.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I grew up wanting to become a flight attendant. I wanted to be able to travel the world and admired how flight attendants cared for all of their passengers. This actually happened to me as a child when I experienced motion sickness, and I remember the flight attendant being there for me the whole time. (Did you know that the first flight attendants were all registered nurses?)
What was your favorite toy or game as a kid?
My favorite toy was the Tamogotchi [a handheld digital “pet”]. I loved being able to take care of it and watching it develop. I also loved playing the game Clue.
If you could be any animal, what would you be and why?
I would be a bird because I would like to fly and migrate from one place to another. I also admire peacocks for their beautiful vibrancy and because they symbolize integrity.
You’ve got a day off. What are you doing?
I’m either doing homework for school — I’m getting my master’s in nursing with a concentration in global public health — or I’m doing calligraphy or creating wedding signage, which is a hobby of mine.
Learn more about the Colorectal and Pelvic Malformation Center.
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