Anne M. Cabello, RN, BSN, CRRN, was only 12 years old when she experienced a mild stroke. Luckily for her, with good, acute rehabilitative care—as well as, she says, much love, prayers, and support—she made a full recovery. This experience, though, led her to become a rehabilitation nurse when she grew up.
“Rehabilitation nursing allows me to give back what I have been given and to provide nursing care to a patient for a significant period of time, often watching them progress to a lesser dependent state than what they were at when the stroke first occurred,” Cabello says.
Since 1995, Cabello has worked for Burke Rehabilitation Hospital in White Plains, New York, and she is a staff RN on an acute rehabilitation stroke unit. “The majority of my patients have suffered some form of a stroke resulting in impaired mobility usually on one side of their body—affecting their arm, hand, and/or leg, impaired speech and swallowing ability, impaired cognition, impaired vision, and impaired bladder and bowel function,” explains Cabello.
Working the 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift, Cabello says that being the primary nurse for neurology patients means that she cares for people who have worked hard during the day doing intense physical, occupational, and speech therapy. Her role, she says, includes doing an ongoing assessment of their conditions and reporting the results to the physician, medication administration by oral, IV, or via feeding tube, and overseeing the care associated with activities of everyday living including: assisting patients with eating, transfers to the toilet or in and out of bed, helping them change into night clothes, showering/bathing, wound care, tracheostomy care, incontinence care, and bladder catheterizations for those who need it.
Cabello says that the greatest reward for her in her job is “job satisfaction—knowing that I have given the best care I can to a patient.”
If you’re considering this type of nursing work, Cabello says that you must be compassionate. “Care for each patient as if they were your own loved one. That is what will cause you to give special attention to all your duties.”
“Nurses are vital team members of the health care team and are the ones on the frontline in providing direct care for patients. The stroke patients on the unit are still at the phase of their illness where they are at a high risk for a stroke progression,” says Cabello. “The nurse’s strong assessment skills coupled with identification of sudden changes in the patient’s condition can lead to the quick treatment and health care management of the patient.”