Empowering patients to feel confident

Daramis Toribio

APP Spotlight: Darmis Toribio, Nurse Practitioner, Family Medicine, SwedishAmerican Rochelle and Davis Junction Clinic

Tell us about yourself.

I always knew I wanted to do something in healthcare. Anything that had to do with the human body amazed me. When I was young, I wanted to be a doctor. Given my interest in the medical field, I decided to join my high school’s tech prep program. This allowed me to get clinical hours and college credit in order to complete a certified nursing assistant (CNA) program while still in high school. Upon graduating, I worked at a local hospital as a CNA and decided that nursing was the right route for me. 

I earned my Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from Saint Anthony College of Nursing in Rockford. After several years of working as a hospital nurse, I was ready to further advance my career. It was a challenging time in my life. My boys were 2 and 3 years old and I was not quite sure how I would be able to juggle working 12-hour nights and finish school. With the help of my family, especially my mother, Rosenda, I was able to complete the program and graduate in 2016. 

Where did you grow up?

I was born in my hometown of Rockford, Illinois. I have always been a bit of a homebody so have not ventured far.

Tell us about your family.

Family is very important to me. My husband, Jason, and I have been married for 15 years and we have three children—Jason, 13, Enrique, 12, and Valentina, 7 months. We feel complete with the addition of our daughter. My boys love having a little sister. I am blessed to have my parents and four of my five siblings close by.

How did you come to UW Health?

I was drawn to SwedishAmerican Health System (now UW Health) because for as long as I can remember, it has been a healthcare leader in my community. I went to an open house before I applied for a position and was pleasantly surprised by the diversity among the employees. I could not have asked for a better place to work.

What inspires you about your profession?

I feel inspired knowing that patients trust me to help them regain their health. I truly enjoy taking care of others. When I was a hospital nurse, I felt confident knowing that my patients were well cared for and comfortable on my watch. As a nurse practitioner in a clinic setting, it is a more hands-off approach, but I still can have a positive impact on the patients I see. My goal is always to teach and empower patients to learn the necessary tools to feel confident making decisions at home that will ultimately have a positive impact on their health.

Do you have a memorable experience in your career that has stayed with you?

Throughout my career I have had so many special patient encounters. I will always remember one geriatric patient who unfortunately was struggling with addiction. He was the only patient that I ever had to administer Narcan to. On that particular day, he had used before his visit and despite his lethargic state, his friend brought him to the clinic in a wheelchair. He always came to the clinic with an open mind, and after a while, I realized he was extremely lonely, and likely saw our visits as “therapy.” Sadly, he lost his battle with addiction. He taught me a lot about myself, not only as a provider but as a person. Sometimes it’s the smallest things that we do that can have such a positive impact on a patient.

What have your patients taught you about yourself?

I am constantly learning from my patients. One big lesson I had to learn early on was to be more humble. I have made the mistake of coming into a visit thinking I knew what was best for the patient before sitting and listening to them. Sometimes the most important part of our job is just being present and listening. My patients also help remind me how important it is to not take my health for granted and to take time to enjoy the little things in life.

In a few words, how would you describe your coworkers and team at UW Health?

I feel very fortunate to work with such a great team. There are a few provider teams within the clinics but despite these designated teams, we all work together to make sure patients are well cared for. My colleagues and I often discuss patient scenarios with one other and I love the fact that we all value each other’s input. I feel that the organization truly values the work that APPs provide and I feel blessed to work in such a supportive environment.

Outside of work, what did you accomplish this year that makes you proud? My most important accomplishment this year would have to be giving birth to my daughter, Valentina!