2021 Excellence in Healthcare Honoree: Edmara Y. Nieves Cruz
Meet Edmara Y. Nieves Cruz, Emergency Medicine Attending Physician at Envision/Broward Health
Edmara Y. Nieves Cruz was born and raised in Puerto Rico and completed her bachelor’s degree and MD degree on the island. Eight years ago, she moved to Florida to complete her Emergency Medicine training in Orlando Regional Medical Center.
She worked in Pensacola, Florida for one year and then relocated to Fort Lauderdale, where she works as a full-time attending physician and teaching faculty for NOVA and FIU medical students. She is also a core faculty and Simulation clerkship director for the new EM residency, starting July 2021. She enjoys working at a Level I trauma and academic center because every shift is a new challenge and learning experience. Being a physician and a new mom to a baby boy leaves her very little time off, which she enjoys spending time outdoors with the family, reading a good book, or working out.
Favorite Quote: “Faith is believing BEFORE what will only make sense AFTER.”
Fun Fact: I was always the shortest girl in every classroom while growing up. With lots of dedication and hard work, I made it to the school’s volleyball team and became the starter setter in high school. I was still the shortest player in every tournament.
What challenges have you faced in your career, and how did you overcome them? Being pregnant at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic was certainly one of the most challenging situations I’ve faced so far in my career. Everything was so uncertain regarding the virus’s long-term effects on pregnant patients and their babies. I had a great team of coworkers who stepped up to help when I needed it the most. At home, I had the support of my loving husband, who helped and cared for me throughout the process. I took extensive personal protective measures and worked throughout my whole pregnancy; the baby decided to come into this world the day after my last shift. I now have a beautiful, healthy baby boy and I am back to work full time at the ER, finally seeing some light at the end of this COVID-19 tunnel.
What has been the most monumental moment of your career thus far? The moment I found out I matched in Emergency Medicine at my No. 1 choice, Orlando Health. That joy and sense of fulfillment are like no other is in that moment where you feel like the 12-plus years you’ve invested in your career have finally paid off.
How is the healthcare industry important to you personally? Being a physician is my calling and an essential part of who I am. Working in the ER is very challenging but truly rewarding at the same time. Every shift is an opportunity to provide a helping hand, comfort and hope to patients who are going through some of their darkest times. It also reminds us every day to count our blessings and the little things we so easily take for granted.
How did the pandemic disrupt your specific role in the healthcare industry, and how did you adapt? As frontline healthcare workers, we continued to work and attend to patients affected by the pandemic. The COVID-19 surge was a really dark time filled with uncertainty and fear.
After seeing coworkers falling ill, our workplace became intimidating. At work and at home, we took extensive personal protective measures. We attended to a very scared population and provided comfort and encouragement. Together we slowly learned about the deadly virus, how to prevent and manage it. We are still fighting it in the frontlines; now with a better understanding of the disease process and with a strong sense of hope, these dark times will soon come to an end.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten? Put God first above all.
What do you love most about working in healthcare? I truly enjoy working at a community hospital and attending to an underserved population. I love being in a teaching faculty and helping shape medical students into well-rounded future physicians. I love my Broward Health family, coworkers, nurses, medics and technicians; together, we thrive in the middle of stress and pressure in order to create a positive impact in our community on a daily basis.