Ildiko VitezWhen Ildiko Vitez arrived from Hungary to the United States back in 1995, she already had a strong medical background.

She soon found her passion in nursing and translated her knowledge to the that profession by earning her bachelor’s degree at California State University, Fullerton, in 2007.

Ildiko started as a critical care nurse at Memorialcare Saddleback Medical Center 14 years ago.

“Saddleback is home,” said Ildiko. “I’ve always been supported in my career choices and aspirations.”

Her dedication and commitment have not gone unnoticed, as she has advanced in her career several times. Today, as a joint and spine nurse navigator, she guides patients before, during and after joint and spine surgeries. She teaches a pre-op class to prepare patients and family members for what to expect throughout the process.

“I follow up with them after, too, sometimes two to three months into recovery,” she said.

As a lifelong learner, Ildiko is continuing her pursuits by going to school for her master’s in nursing leadership.

Last year she was awarded the first Janet Fern McNulty Endowed Nursing Scholarship, established by Jim McNulty of Laguna Woods.

“I was deeply honored to receive this scholarship through Saddleback Medical Center Foundation, especially because it was created in memory of Jim McNulty’s wife, who had a doctorate in nursing,” Ildiko said.

“I hope to carry on her legacy of nursing excellence and contribute to Saddleback’s future.”

She believes that the profession deserves nurses who are highly educated and able to practice to the best of their abilities on behalf of their patients.