Zarah's Path from Traveler to OR Nurse

By: Alana Ridge

May 11, 2023

An operating room nurse poses with her hands on her hips in front of operating room equipment.

As many nurses can attest, the journey they have taken to arrive at where they are today is full of twists and turns. For Zarah Jayco, an operating room nurse at Renown Regional Medical Center, her journey is nothing short of a fulfilling and exciting one. Zarah is no stranger to taking detours to find what truly makes her feel the bursts of passion she had been looking for her entire life.

She found that passion in the operating room – and travel nursing led her to Renown Health. Today, she is a firm believer that she is exactly where she is supposed to be. 

“I Just Want to Help People” 

Throughout her life, Zarah knew she was destined for a meaningful career – but didn’t exactly know what. One day, she sat down with her mom, a nurse herself, where she asked the question that would ignite Zarah’s curiosity: What is important to you? 

“That’s when I told my mom: ‘honestly, I just want to help people.’” 

It was at that moment that she realized nursing could be a fit for her. Everything about venturing into the nursing field started to make sense. 

So, that’s precisely what she did. Zarah went to nursing school. When she stepped into the OR during her clinical rotation, she was immediately inspired. 

Zarah’s core values as a nurse were rooted from caring for her 90-year-old grandmother while she was in hospice. Her grandmother gave her some powerful lessons and words as she set off on her career: “You are in the right place.” 

Upon completion of her perioperative program, Zarah the OR Nurse we know and love started her journey. She began her trek as a travel nurse, going up and down California to do exactly what she was meant to do: care for surgical patients. 

“I Traded the Ocean Waves for the Mountains” 

As Zarah continued to travel and find different locations for new assignments, her husband received an opportunity for work to transfer to the Biggest Little City. The duo packed up their California lives and moved to northern Nevada, where Zarah signed up for a night shift OR nurse position at Renown Regional Medical Center. 

But the traveler’s mindset wouldn’t last long. 

Renown embraced Zarah with open arms, and she was immediately drawn into the community-feel that our health system offered. She felt welcomed and surrounded by “loving, hardworking people” across her department and all other teams she encountered. 

As Renown cares for patients across 100,000 square miles, Zarah was especially impressed with how rooted Renown is in northern Nevada, noting how it “truly feels like we are caring for the community” with our health system’s wide reach. She was inspired to live up to that mission and more. 

“Reno and Renown really reeled me in, and I fell in love with the city and everything it has to offer,” said Zarah. “I traded the ocean waves for the mountains, and the more we got to know Reno, the more we realized that this change of pace and lifestyle was definitely a good fit for us.” 

Zarah the OR Travel Nurse became Zarah the Renown OR Core Staff Charge Nurse. And she knew she made the right decision. 

Working in the OR, according to Zarah, is challenging in the best way possible. At night, all surgery cases at Renown are emergencies. The team springs into action to answer one vital question: How do we provide the best care for this patient? 

“It is essential for us to anticipate potential outcomes,” said Zarah. “When we book a surgical case, we look at everything to make sure we are absolutely prepared and ready.” 

Staying at Renown was an easy choice for Zarah. To her, there is nothing like being a part of a core team that inspires her every day and ‘has each others’ back,’” Zarah stated. “During the course of my assignment at Renown, the culture harnessed a kind of environment that felt like a hardworking family. This was the hook that reeled me into considering being part of core staff. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to build relationships that I hold in the highest esteem.” 

Nursing at Renown Health

Angi, Renown ICU Nurse

Nursing at Renown Health

Nurses at Renown Health demonstrate a commitment to patients and their families through integration of care, clinical expertise, education, evidence-based practice and the pursuit of quality patient outcomes.

“Health is Our Wealth” 

Right after joining Renown as a core team member, Zarah would experience the fight for her life – with a diagnosis of an abdominal tumor. Fighting the Good Fight would bring along a whole new meaning for her. 

Upon her diagnosis, the healthcare team at Renown sprung into action. 

“I saw healthcare from a very different perspective,” said Zarah. “Now, I was on the patient side.” 

The day of her surgery arrived, the tumor was removed, and her road to recovery began upon her admission in Renown’s General Surgery Unit (GSU). 

“I was given the best care in the GSU,” said Zarah. “The specialists at the Pennington Cancer Institute at Renown were so thorough and wanted to make sure I got the greatest care possible.” 

Even as a new employee, Zarah’s coworkers in the OR fully supported her journey. She attributes that comradery as a key part of her being healthy and happy today. 

Zarah proudly states, “What I love most about working for Renown is that I am one of the millions of people that have benefited from the high level of care we rely on, as a community, to provide. Breaking through this life altering experience, I am humbled as a patient and empowered as a nurse.” 

As she began her post-surgical follow up care, Zarah reflected on how this experience further affirmed her passion for her patients – and for Renown. Not only was Renown her champion as an employee, but now Renown also was her champion as a patient. 

“I truly feel like I was in the right place at the right time with the right people,” said Zarah. “It’s very empowering because having gone through it all, I empathize with my patients and can wholeheartedly understand them. I found comfort knowing that I never felt I was alone here while I was going through my treatment, and I feel very tied and dedicated to Renown’s healthcare system.” 

From saving lives to her own life being saved, Zarah is sure of one major fact: 

“Health is our wealth – and there’s power in having a healthcare team that ensures all medical needs are met.” 

“I Wear My Purple Very Proud” 

As both a team member in the OR and a cancer patient, Zarah feels that Renown and her team on the OR night shift reeled her in – in all the right ways. So, when she was approached by her leader to participate in Renown’s recruitment campaign, it was a quick and easy ‘yes.’ 

“I knew immediately that I wanted to represent Renown and was happy to be one of the faces of the recruitment campaign,” said Zarah. “I wear my purple very proud.” 

To Zarah, “Fight the Good Fight” means that the health expedition her patients take will never be walked alone, because Renown – and the entire team – will always be there every step of the way. No patient, nor employee, ever has to feel like they are fighting by themselves.  

And the relationships made along the way? According to Zarah, those are lifelong. 

“The best feeling of being core staff that I didn’t feel while a travel nursing is building these strong relationships,” said Zarah. “These coworkers have become friends and family. We have and continuously go through both the best and the worst together. Having traveled for so long, I know that these friendships and relationships are priceless. I absolutely cannot exchange that for anything.” 

Outside of the OR, you can find Zarah traveling (but not for work anymore!), doing yoga, getting pampered at the spa, hiking, spending as much time as she can with her family and dogs, and of course, exploring all that Reno/Tahoe has to offer." 

“There are so many places to explore and so many things to do here, not to mention that we are right in the center of easy road trips and plane rides thanks to the Reno-Tahoe International Airport,” said Zarah. 

Always positive, always passionate, always persevering – Zarah encourages anyone who wants to enter the world of healthcare, especially at Renown, to take the leap. 

Zarah emphasizes, “Encouraging and inviting anyone that has a spark of interest working in the OR. What I love most is the boundless abilities to grow. We work as a team in full collaboration of varied responsibilities. Each service requires a different set of skills, and it evolves and changes continuously. I could truly say I learn and adapt something new to my practice every day.” 

“Keep an open mind that this could possibly be the best field and place for you; keep your head up and your heart strong, and you can face absolutely anything that comes your way,” Zarah closes.
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