August 9, 2021

Care Guides of Castlight: Caren Trujillo, RN, MSN

Welcome to Care Guides of Castlight, a series of personal profiles of Castlight Care Guides. Our Care Guides are a diverse group of clinical, billing, and benefits professionals who help our members navigate the healthcare system and maximize their healthcare benefits. We are excited to introduce you to them and to the important work they do!

For Caren Trujillo, “Nurse” isn’t just a title on her resume. It’s an integral part of her identity.

In Spain, where she grew up, it’s customary to choose your career path by age 16. Caren decided to pursue nursing because she excelled in the sciences and has always been an individual who cares deeply for others. Fortunately, it all worked out well: She says that nursing is the perfect role for her.

“It’s more than a job for me,” she says. “It’s who I am.”

Caren earned her nursing degree at the University of Barcelona in Spain before moving to Salt Lake City, UT, almost a decade ago. Because her nursing education took place in Europe, her credentials were not recognized in the U.S. But, she was incredibly committed to her career in nursing. So, she spent almost a year going through the arduous process it takes to obtain the required credentials and a U.S. nursing license.

“The process was lengthy,” Caren says. But it was more than worth it for her.

Since moving to the U.S., Caren has worked in various settings, including post anesthesia care (PACU), where she cared for patients after orthopedic surgery, and home health services like hospice care. She’s also been an employee health coach, a clinical research coordinator, and an adjunct instructor at the Ameritech College of Healthcare, among other roles. In addition, she earned her Master’s degree in Nursing Education in 2016.

In 2020, after living in Spain for a year to spend time near her family, Caren and her husband moved back to Utah and Caren decided to become a Clinical Care Guide for Castlight. She was excited by the role because, similarly to her job as a health coach, allowed her to delve deeply into members’ needs—something that many traditional nursing roles do not include.

“When a member calls… the first step is to schedule an appointment with a primary care physician. But it’s a great opportunity to educate them on clinical issues they may have.”

By far, Caren’s favorite part of being a Care Guide (and a nurse in general) is the opportunity to educate her patients about all aspects of their health, from explaining an ailment they may have to how specific lifestyle choices can improve their wellbeing and quality of life.

“As a Care Guide, I really do like the education piece I’m able to put into my work every day,”

Caren says. “I enjoy helping someone figure out something they might not know they need and how to start addressing it.” She truly excels at helping members sift through all the clutter, identify and prioritize their health issues, and figure out the best next steps.

For example, a member named Jane* recently contacted Caren to learn more about an adult wellness campaign email she’d received. Castlight sends these messages to members who haven’t had a primary care visit in more than a year.

“Typically, when a member calls in response to this email, the first step is to schedule an appointment with a primary care physician. But it’s a great opportunity to educate them on clinical issues they may have,” Caren explained.

During her conversation with Jane, Caren was able to uncover a slew of struggles Jane was facing, including discomfort navigating the U.S. healthcare system as a primarily Spanish-speaking person, a much-higher-than-expected bill for a visit to her doctor, a persistent pain in her shoulder that radiated into her hand, and the recent traumatic death of her family member — which was accompanied by sky high medical bills for his care — trouble sleeping, and overwhelming feelings of sadness and grief.

“Any problem they may have, we’re here for them. Their wellbeing is at the heart of our purpose.”

Over the course of several weeks, Caren helped Jane tackle each issue.

For the large physician bill, Caren explained the benefits of sticking with in-network providers. She also helped Jane sign up for a Health Savings Account (HSA). To address the shoulder pain, Caren helped Jane find a Spanish-speaking rehabilitation specialist in her area and walked her through filling out the pre-appointment questionnaire. To help Jane cope with the death of her family member, Caren collaborated with Jane’s Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) in an effort to connect her with a therapist, and identified different local Spanish-speaking grief support groups.

So, from a simple phone call about a wellness program, Caren was able to advocate on Jane’s behalf—in her native language—and help Jane take positive steps toward better physical, emotional, and financial wellbeing.
Clearly, it was an enormous benefit to Jane that Caren is a fluent Spanish-speaker.

“You think there are all these resources for Spanish speakers,” Caren says, “but these resources are often presented in English. The language barrier makes accessing and understanding services much harder for those who are new to the country.”

What’s the key to making members like Jane feel comfortable opening up? According to Caren, “It’s about listening closely and giving the member ample time to talk about what they’re going through’ — a luxury many patients don’t receive during a traditional doctor appointment due to tight physician schedules.

If there’s one thing Caren wants people to know about Care Guides, it’s that “any problem they may have, we’re here for them. Their wellbeing is at the heart of our purpose. We really want to help them figure out what’s the best thing for them.”

Caren’s passion for educating others extends beyond her day job as a Care Guide for Castlight. She also teaches at a nursing college and is a yoga instructor to primarily Spanish-speaking members in her community. When Caren’s not working or teaching, she’s doing projects around her new house, preparing for her first baby (due in December!), hiking, walking, or practicing yoga and meditation.

*Name has been changed for confidentiality.

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