NORFOLK – When Jose Nuño was a kid growing up in Fremont, 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.
“One of the things I wanted to do was help with that,” Nuño said.
And so, when he grew up, he did. In 2017, he earned his physician assistant degree at the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Allied Health Professions. Today he works mostly in cardiovascular care, including surgery, at Faith Regional Health Services in Norfolk. 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.
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,” Nuño added.
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 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.”