A Nurse, a Teacher, a Shoulder to Lean On: Brandon Garcia’s Story

Before he even graduated high school, Brandon Garcia was determined to be a nurse at Albany Medical Center. A mentor from the hospital explained that he could start his career as a patient care associate (PCA), and then put him in touch with Lisa Schryver, the nurse manager on the neuroscience unit. Garcia was eager to get his foot in the door.

“One of the first things Lisa told me was, ‘Brandon, you need to finish high school first, and then we can talk about start dates!’” he recalled.

Garcia officially joined Albany Medical Center as a PCA on Lisa’s unit in September 2013, caring for patients with strokes, brain tumors, aneurysms, seizures, epilepsy, traumatic brain injuries, neuromuscular diseases and other neurological conditions. Garcia admits he was nervous at first, but nurses and other PCAs on the unit were incredibly welcoming and supportive.

“Once I began work, I made so many friends that I have kept since that time more than eight years ago,” he said. “The preceptors who worked with me when I was a PCA are still here, and they are some of the most dedicated, caring, and compassionate people I have ever known. They really showed me the ropes and helped me get comfortable taking care of patients. I have nothing but the highest respect for them.”

While working as a PCA, Garcia learned about Albany Medical Center’s Grow Our Own program, which provides eligible employees—including PCAs, medical techs, licensed practical nurses and other qualified staff—with the financial and academic resources to become registered nurses while they are working. Garcia enrolled and completed nursing school in 2018.

“The program allowed me to complete nursing school with the least amount of stress possible and get my degree debt-free,” he said.

Once he became a registered nurse, Garcia learned what it truly meant to be a patient advocate. Not only does this involve providing the best care to patients in the hospital, but also ensuring patients and families have the tools, resources, and education they need to move forward.

“I am not only a nurse. In many situations, I find myself as a teacher, a motivator, and a shoulder to lean on for many of my patients,” he explained.

Garcia is now taking advantage of Albany Medical Center’s tuition reimbursement program to earn his bachelor’s degree in nursing.

“Albany Medical Center is a great place to work,” he said. "And it’s special because of the people—not just the nurses and doctors but all our vital support staff. The experience you get at Albany Medical Center is invaluable.”

Interested in a career in nursing? Like Brandon Garcia, you can take advantage of all the opportunities Albany Medical Center has to offer. Learn more at albanymedcareers.com.