UNMC alum aims to help others in rural community

by Kalani Simpson, UNMC public relations | August 27, 2018

Image with caption: Jose Nuño

Jose Nuño

When Jose Nuño was a kid growing up in Fremont, Neb., seeing a health care professional was an awkward, intimidating experience. There was a language barrier -- his parents' first language is Spanish.

Health care can be scary anyway, especially for little kids, like Jose and his big brother, Trino, were then. Medicine can sound like a foreign tongue, even in your first language. And if your parents are confused, and maybe a little nervous, how would a child feel?

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UNMC College of Allied Health Professions alumnus Jose Nuño, right, calls cardiovascular surgery "intimidating," but relishes the opportunity to improve the lives of patients.

"One of the things I wanted to do was help with that," Nuño said. And so, when he grew up, he did.

Today, he is a physician assistant, a graduate of UNMC's PA program, at Faith Regional Health Services in Norfolk, Neb. He works mostly in cardiovascular care, including surgery.

But on the weekends, he takes shifts in urgent care. Word of mouth has gotten around that there is a Latino PA who speaks the language, takes extra care to make his patients comfortable, and makes going to the clinic less scary for little kids.

He's only lived there a few months, but Nuño likes Norfolk. It reminds him of his hometown.

"It's very similar to Fremont, it's essentially the same town," he said. "A blue-collar hardworking town."

He knew hard work growing up. His dad still works at Hormel in Fremont. His mom took care of the family, and was a caregiver for a patient with multiple sclerosis. Nuño was an enthusiastic student-athlete (go, Tigers). But, being a first-generation college student is tough - the path isn't set out for you; you have to keep pushing, and find your own way.

As high school graduation came up, he was asked where he wanted to work.

He wanted to go to school, he said.

Trade school?

Well, trade school is a good thing.

But he wanted to be a health care professional - one who could use English or Spanish to let little kids know everything is going to be OK.

Big brother Trino was a few steps ahead of him. Trino Nuño , D.D.S., graduated from UNMC's College of Dentistry. Today, he owns Mockingbird Dental in Omaha.

"He definitely paved the way," Jose said.

Jose graduated from UNMC's College of Allied Health Professions in Dec. 2017 and is thrilled with the work he does.

"We do cardiovascular surgery in Norfolk, Nebraska," he said. "It's amazing we can provide these services in this smaller town."

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Michael Huckabee
August 27, 2018 at 10:47 AM

Jose is an incredible role model for the PA profession. So glad UNMC shined the light on this talented man.

Greg Karst
August 27, 2018 at 10:40 AM

Jose, thank you for dreaming big and then overcoming some major obstacles to make that dream come true. You are going to make a huge difference for many young people who will find health care to be less intimidating than it was for you as a child. And I wouldn't be a bit surprised to see some of them end up here at UNMC to follow in your footsteps as a health care provider.

Valentina Orduna
August 27, 2018 at 10:14 AM

Awesome story, I'm glad to see more and more Latinos in healthcare!

Melissa Dorr
August 27, 2018 at 9:35 AM

Way to go, Jose! Everyone in the UNMC PA Program is SO proud of you!!