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James H. Cecile Quillen Rehabilitation Hospital Nursing Story - Candace Mink, CRRN

I began my nursing career in 1972 when I enrolled in LPN school shortly after high school graduation.  To be honest, I enrolled in LPN school because I didn't really know what I wanted to do with my life.  Since my older sister was enrolled in nursing shcool at ETSU, I decided to pursue nrusing also.  I didn't want to commit to several years of college, so I opted to try a 13 month LPN class.

I became an LPN and loved nrusing.  My "RN sister" and I would talk for hours about our jobs.  It was very exciting and rewarding.  Soon enough, the "honeymoon" period of beina a 'new, eager, wanting to save the world nurse' began to wear off.  The work was rewarding but very hard.  I felt I worked as hard as the RNs but the respect and pay for an LPN was disappionting to me.  This is when I enrolled in ETSU's AD nursing program.

Six years later I graduated to become an RN (I took my time).  Once again I was 'a new, eager, wanting to save the world' RN.  I began my career as an RN working and loving the excitement of a busy ER.  However, it seems the "grass always looks greener".  I kept looking for that "perfect job".  After working several different areas as an RN, I decided to try working on the new rehab unit at JCMC.  This was a different and enjoyable change.  I slowly began learning about rehab nursing.  At this time, Rehab was a new and misunderstood field to most of the local nursing community, therefore, there was a lot of less than positive comments form the rest of the hospital nurses about rehab nurses.  "Lazy" was a frequent adjective.  However, I was once again enjoying being a nurse and looking forward to coming to work.

A particular patient I cared for early during my "rehab days" was an elderly lady who was making very slow progress.  Her daughter stayed with her most of the day and night.  The patient needed to go the bathroom frequently during the night.  Two nurses were required to assist her to the bathroom.  We would stay with her in the bathroom along with her daughter until she was finished.  I never thought much about these night time toileting visits until the patient suddenly died.  It was a that time that I heard the daughter talking with the patient's doctor about it.  I didn't realize how important these times were for both the patient and the daughter.  These times were filled with memories being rehashed between Mother and Daughter.  There was lots of laughter but also some serious discussions.  This taught me that nursing is much more than high tech medications and equipment.  It is one human "CARING' for another.  It can be as simple as freely giving your time and a listening ear.

Eighteen years and many changes later, I continue to work as a Rehab Nurse.  I am continuing to learn about Rehab nursing and about life.  At the top of that learning list is that the perfect job does not exist in this world (maybe in the next).  However, being a Rehab Nurse is the most perfect job for me.  To refer to Rehab Nurses as 'lazy' is no longer heard.  Being a Rehab Nurse is the hardest type of nursing I have ever done, but it is the most rewarding.  Trying to "save the world" is not my goal anymore.  Helping my patients rebuild and improve the quality of their lfie is my goal today.  All of my former nursing positions have helped me to become a better Rehab Nurse.  In addition to needing good basic nrusing skills, a Rehab Nurse must have knowledge of rehab principles and techniques, excellent clinical assessment skills, communication skills, teaching skills, and a love for people.

I plan to retire in about 12 years.  Will I continue to work as a Rehab Nurse?  I don't know, but as of now I have no plans to leave Rehab Nursing for any other type of nursing.