David Fuentes, R.N.: A passion for patients, and guitar picks

May 30, 2016 | by City of Hope

Breakthroughs - David Fuentes David Fuentes

During a month that celebrates both Mother’s Day and Nurses Week, David Fuentes, R.N., credits his mom for his career choice.

Guadalupe Perez worked as a nurse assistant but always aspired to be an R.N. “Due to her circumstances as a single mom and the troubles she found herself in later down the road, she was never able to fulfill her dreams,” Fuentes said. “So I guess you could say my aspirations and accomplishments are an ode to my mom.”

A front-page October 2013 article in the Los Angeles Times about Fuentes’s journey to becoming a nurse details his traumatic childhood, filled with abuse and his mother’s addiction, and how he became a caregiver to his siblings. He decided to go into nursing in his freshman or sophomore year of high school.

Besides fulfilling his mother’s dream, Fuentes found that as a nurse who spends his days taking care of others, he is able to leave his own troubles behind.

Fuentes graduated from nursing school at UCLA in 2013, landing his first job in the intensive care unit at UCLA Medical Center before switching to internal medicine, where he discovered a passion for working with oncology patients. He joined City of Hope in November 2015, where he currently works in the medical oncology unit.

“I feel I serve the most courageous, enduring and inspiring people when I step into City of Hope,” David said. “I strive to leave a positive impression in patient lives, no matter how big or small.”

In an unexpected twist, treating cancer patients has inspired Fuentes to pursue another passion — music. He picked up the guitar later in life, after high school, teaching himself so that he could play along to his favorite punk rock songs. “Music had always been an escape, my happy place,” he said. “No matter what was going on around me, I could put my earphones on and everything was suddenly all right. And music really helped me dream and move forward.”

He has found that music works in unison with his medical work.

“They are really very similar; they feed off each other,” he said. “People forget about the most important aspect of being a good and efficient health care provider, and that is passion. I'm a nurse because I have a passion for helping others, and that's something that can't be taught or learned.”

Fuentes also speaks of the “art” of nursing. “Just as I lose myself in composing, writing, singing and playing a song, I lose myself in tending to the needs of patients at the bedside. And the experiences I have with patients and their families influence and inspire my music and my drive as an aspiring recording artist,” he said.

Fuentes added that he practices his music “24/7 outside of the hospital; no exaggeration, it literally has consumed me.” For the last year and a half he has dedicated himself to learning the ins and outs of audio recording, production and sound engineering. He describes his sound as “a fusion of all kinds of genres, from syncopated jazz sounds to blues and even R&B/soul to electronic pop, all enveloped by rock 'n roll.”

He recently took a 10-day leave from City of Hope to work on postproduction of his first LP, a mini album of six songs on which he plays all of the guitar, piano and bass and does the vocals, which he hopes to release in June.

Reflecting on how his career as an oncology nurse has influenced his work as a musician, Fuentes said: “It really puts into perspective how fragile and fleeting this life can be. No one ever imagines they'll be diagnosed with cancer and when it hits, it hits hard!”

He added, “It’s an overwhelming sense of fulfillment to do what I do and to have the honor of servicing City of Hope patients. In turn, their tireless fight inspires me to work unconditionally and tirelessly for them, and also for my own dreams and aspirations as a recording artist.”


Learn more about City of Hope's nursing program. If you are looking for a second opinion or consultation about your treatment, request an appointment online or contact us at 800-826-HOPE. Please visit Making Your First Appointment for more information.


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