Graduate Derek Cantu Awarded ER Nurse of The Year by Baylor Scott & White

May 16, 2019

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Baylor Scott & White Health hospital in Dallas has recognized Texas Lutheran University graduate Derek Cantu ’17 as the 2019 Emergency Department RN of The Year for his dedication to patients and outstanding teamwork. This peer-selected honor is based upon feedback from supervisors, hospital techs, fellow nurses, and unlicensed personnel who vote every month before a final tally.

Cantu stands out even more since he’s only worked at the hospital’s emergency room for less than two years and the award is typically given to colleagues with much more experience.

“This is a huge accomplishment for me and it was totally unexpected,” he said. “It means a lot to know that my peers put so much confidence and faith in me.”

Although the award is usually given to someone with more ER experience, Cantu was also acknowledged for his great attitude and work ethic day in and day out. The former TLU Baseball pitcher says he always focuses on the teamwork aspect of his position.

“Being part of a team has prepared me in many ways,” he said. “With some of the patients I get I couldn’t do it alone. Knowing that someone else is there to help me and to have my back reminds me of when I would pitch. Having others there to rely on and be there when you need it the most is comforting. I put a lot of value in that and it helps me be a better advocate for my patients so they can get the treatment they need.”

A self-described adrenaline junkie, Cantu also compares the fast-paced environment of the ER to intense moments he faced as an athlete.

“I thrive in this environment,” he said. “I love being put in scenarios where everything can change so fast. Whether it was a long baseball game or a critical patient, I like not knowing what will happen. In the trauma rotation, you’re dealing with so much and lots of serious accidents. Everything moves so fast and it’s a rush. There is so much teamwork because everything we do it time sensitive and we want to be out of the room as fast as possible. I love a challenge.”

Although he started at TLU as a biology major, the birth of his nephew during his sophomore year made him realize that maybe nursing was a good fit.

“TLU had just started the nursing program and they also allowed me to play baseball,” he said. “It started just as a career I was interested in and I’ve loved it ever since. I love talking to people and I go to see how nurses communicate with families at the hospital. I love being there for people and nursing gives me that opportunity.”

So far, Cantu has been able to accomplish several short-term goals including his CNE certification and the completion of three-week trauma training course. Long-term goal doctorate but I’m thinking more of specialize in trauma resource nurse long term years down the road. Maybe go back for an MSN and become an educator later on in life.

A former member of the Black & Gold President’s Council, Cantu has tremendous respect for his alma mater and President Dorsey.

“I would like to thank TLU for everything,” he said. “I love Dr. Dorsey and Mrs. Dorsey. He really pushed to make the nursing program happen and I’m grateful. It’s a tough program, but it’s totally worth it. Just having patients and their families thank you for all you’ve done and for being there is amazing. When someone says, ‘Thank you for doing what you do,’ that’s the best thing you can ever hear as a nurse.”


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