Spending her lunchtime with her young daughter Monica was something Maria Arreola always enjoyed when working her shift at CHOC Hospital. Proud of both, she looked forward to the times when Monica could join her at the hospital. And Monica enjoyed it, as well. Little did the two know then just how much of an impact those times together would have on their futures.
Maria Arreola joined CHOC in 1981 – a dream come true. Eager to get a foot in the door, she accepted a position with the environmental services department in hopes she’d eventually land a spot as a clinical assistant (CA). Six months later, she was working as a CA in oncology.
She loved her job, and particularly enjoyed when her daughter Monica would visit her for lunch. Maria’s co-workers would frequently ask Monica what she wanted to be when she grew up. Her reply was always the same: “a nurse.”
“I saw something very special in Monica, something that told me she would be a wonderful nurse,” says Maria.
Though she didn’t tell her mom. Monica wasn’t always so sure. What she did know, however, is that CHOC was unique.
“Even at a young age, I knew CHOC was different, and I thought it was so special because it was just for kids,” recalls Monica.
The kids are what drew her mom to CHOC.
“I love working with children and their families; it’s my passion. And being at CHOC means I get to care for patients, as well as provide support to their parents. It’s wonderful to be able to make such a difference,” explains Maria.
That desire to make a difference lured Monica to follow in her mom’s footsteps. She joined CHOC in 2007 as a CA in the neurosurgical unit. At the time, Maria was working in that same unit.
“Whenever we had the same shifts, I admired my mom’s work ethic and was inspired by her passion and her ability to connect with families,” says Monica.
And like her mom, Monica enjoys practicing patient-and-family-centered care.
“I love being an advocate for my patients, and a voice for those who perhaps can’t verbalize. As care providers, we need to partner with our patients and their families to really understand and meet their needs,” explains Monica.
After a few years, and with encouragement from her mom, manager and co-workers, Monica decided to become a registered nurse. She continued to work part-time as a CA while completing her education. The support from everyone was amazing, says Monica.
Most recently, she completed CHOC’s RN Residency Program. And, to the delight of her mom and her co-workers, of whom many watched her grow up, she was hired as a registered nurse in the neurosurgical unit. Monica’s mom still works at CHOC, in the neurosurgery clinic. So, while one Arreola works with CHOC Neuroscience Institute patients on the inpatient side, the other gets to interact with them as outpatients.
“I am so proud of my daughter, of the human being and of the nurse she became. I also still love working at CHOC,” says Maria, who recently celebrated her 25th year. “Having my daughter part of my CHOC family, as well, is amazing.”
When Maria and Monica aren’t working, they enjoy spending time with their family, going on hikes and enjoying Maria’s cooking.