Michael Moreno was born with a congenital heart problem. Had he been born in a different era he might not have survived. Now 24, he just graduated from nursing school and plans to become a cardiac nurse practitioner to help other heart patients.
The son of Ramon Moreno Jr. and Sandy Fernandez, of Corpus Christi, Moreno was born with a serious heart condition called aortic valve stenosis, a narrowing of the aortic valve that pumps blood from the heart into the body.
The valve was repaired when he was a few days old, but he needed more surgery when he was 12. Doctors moved his sturdier pulmonary heart valve to where the aortic valve had been, then placed a donated valve into the pulmonary valve’s original position.
“I knew from the age of 12 what I wanted to do with my life. That was to go into the medical field, and ultimately, to become a nurse,” Moreno said. He credits this to the encouragement of the medical staff that provided his care following surgery.
As a high school junior, Moreno went on a field trip to San Antonio where he visited UTSA and UT Health San Antonio. This spurred him to excel in school so that he could one day realize his dream of becoming a nurse.
After completing prerequisites at UTSA, Moreno was accepted to UT Health’s School of Nursing. “Nursing school is exactly what I expected. It is not easy and it pushes you past the limits you thought you were capable of. It made me stronger than I ever knew I could be. I realize now that I can do anything I set my mind to, as long as I have enough discipline. My most memorable moment in nursing school was seeing a baby come back to life (be revived) in the pediatric intensive care unit,” he said.
At UT Health, Moreno has been a member of the Hispanic Student Nurses Association, Men in Nursing and Adelante, a mentoring and advising program that prepares UTSA pre-nursing students to successfully complete their prerequisites and transition into UT Health’s School of Nursing. The program also benefits UT Health nursing students by developing leadership, mentoring and research skills. Through Adelante, Moreno has participated in panel discussions, an open house and tours of the School of Nursing for UTSA students. As a research scholar, he has assisted nursing faculty members in planning, conducting and presenting research studies.
“I have gained skills that will help me develop my nursing practice and my pursuit of a graduate nursing degree,” he said. “The stipend also has helped alleviate the stress of having to pay for school and allowed me to focus on my studies.”
Another meaningful experience for Moreno occurred April 25 when he was one of two nursing students selected to attend a breakfast with new acting U.S. Surgeon General Sylvia Trent-Adams, the first nurse and non-physician to serve as surgeon general. “She was truly amazing, such an inspiring nurse. When I was speaking with her I really felt how much she cares about people and our profession,” Moreno said.
After graduating May 20, Moreno started his new career in Methodist Hospital’s surgical intensive care unit, where nurses provide post-operative care to patients recovering from procedures such as open heart surgery and heart transplants.
But that’s not all. Moreno will continue mentoring two family members, sister Briana Moreno, a first-semester nursing student, and cousin Kimberly Espino, a third-semester nursing student, at UT Health. After a few years, Moreno plans to earn his master’s degree and become a cardiac nurse practitioner.