Job: Rehabilitation nurse, spinal cord unit, Shepherd Center
What I do: “I work with patients in order to help them to regain some form of independence after an accident. Meaning, I teach patients how to redress, properly drain their bladder and evacuate their bowels. Patients’ families are also being educated on the same information. I also educate my patients on how important it is for them to continue living their lives. There is no reason that they can’t; we might just need to modify a couple of things.”
How I got into this: “I first learned about Shepherd from an old friend I worked with while at college. When the pool reopened at Shepherd Center in August of 2005, I applied for the job. I was just getting ready to start nursing school and felt that this was a great place to get my bearing for working with patients; I just did not know how much I was going to like what I do. While working in the pool I learned about a patient care position that was opening up on the floor. I applied for the job because, if anything, I wanted to have as much hands-on training with patients (as I could) so that when I finished nursing school, hopefully, at least that part of the job would not be intimidating. While finishing nursing school, I continued working at Shepherd as a lifeguard and PCT (patient care technician), gaining knowledge and experience along the way.”
Best part of the job: “There are two best parts to my job. The first, being able to build a trusting relationship with my patients. And being able to experience what a patient goes through from admission to discharge — the patient’s triumphs and, sometimes, setbacks. The joy in their faces when you watch them accomplish something that they did not think that they would ever be able to do; it is one of the most rewarding aspects of Shepherd. The second, that I am able to participate in so many other programs (that are) part of Shepherd, from the recreation therapy program — which allows me to go camping with patients — to the promotion program that allows me to sometimes help with water skiing clinics that the Shepherd family can participate in.”
Most challenging part: “Sometimes, getting the family involved in the Shepherd Way. What makes Shepherd work is family involvement — caring for their loved ones and learning what they, as their caregiver, need to do. This sometimes is very challenging to get that involvement, but somehow we always seem to make it work.”
What people don’t know about my job: “There is no easy answer, but what some people think is that we are just here to give medication or do patient care, but that is not the case. In many instances, we are the cheering committee, advocate, emotional support, educator and sometimes somebody for them to just have around when they need them.”
What keeps me going: “The people I work with and, more importantly, my patients. No job is ever easy and not every patient is easy. But even with those patients that are difficult to watch accomplish a task put before them, and their response to having completed that task, gives me the most rewarding feeling.”
Preparation needed: “I have always been a nurturer. I chose to do a volunteer program at Northside (Hospital) and a shadowing program for me to determine if nursing was for me. What I found out during this time is that nursing is right where I need to be.”
Salary: “On average, a nurse starts at $23 per hour and can go up to $35.”
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