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An Interview with Juana Gallegos of the University of Washington School of Nursing

What sparked your interest in nursing studies?

I love working with people and growing up, I was always helping my grandma at her medical appointments by translating for her in Spanish. I personally saw the need for patients to need someone from their culture and language, but I never saw myself in healthcare, so I wanted to change what was within my power. I know the opportunities I have had with Latino Patients to speak their primary language or share a cultural understanding have greatly impacted them as patients. Hopefully, for better overall care of them as a whole!

What is it about nursing that continues to intrigue you, or keeps you learning and “on your toes?”

I would have to say as a nursing instructor, students keep me on my toes daily. It is a good thing, and I welcome an inquisitive nature! I have ALWAYS been the child, student, and coworker that asks too many questions. However, what I have learned is that I feel comfortable asking questions because I am not afraid or shy. Being confident in learning, I have seen that my questions have been received well and that others also had the same questions in mind but were possibly too shy or afraid to ask. So, students keep me on my toes by asking me questions, and that gives me the drive to continue learning myself. Things are always changing in healthcare, and if I become complacent about what I know, I would be doing a disservice to students learning from me.

Where do you see yourself as a nurse leader in 10 years?

That is so far from now. Most of my kids would be starting college, and I would have enough experience to be well-versed in nursing. The goals I have include beginning the process of pursuing a DNP in nursing. Hopefully, the DEI initiatives we are currently working on in my state are now so strong that I am working with people all around the US to increase/promote and continue the much-needed work of diversity within nursing. Lastly, but most importantly, I hope to be working all around the world with multiple partners with my dementia care idea!

How did you learn about the QSNA and what prompted you to apply?

I saw the post on the University of Washington Instagram post that another student forwarded to a group consisting of graduate nursing students. I was intrigued since it dealt with something I work with every day. I own a care home that cares for older adults living with dementia, and I know there is a great need to further their care in a way that promotes quality of life. I applied because I could not stop thinking about how much improved their life would be if I had my idea as a tool to help the patients. And not only the patients but caregivers, who would be able to spend more time providing quality care, instead of trying to de-escalate or re-orient individuals living with dementia.

Will you be bringing your winning idea further, i.e. to market or to development?

Thankfully due to this grant, through the support group of people tied to this award, I have a good network to start the process. I would love nothing more than to see this available in a few years for individuals living with dementia, and I will do my very best to get there. I have been given starting points of the necessary steps to get me to the right people who can help me develop my idea. So, in short, YES!! The goal is to see this in tablets and computers worldwide as a primary tool to help care for our loved ones living with dementia.


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