Podcast | Episode 17: Rehabilitation Nursing at Brooks Rehabilitation

Clinical Expertise

Mar 8, 2022

Medical Reviewer: Joanne Hoertz, RN, MSN, CRRN
Last Updated: December 20, 2022

Welcome to the Brooks Rehabilitation podcast where we talk to our rehabilitation professionals to shed light on the stellar programs and services we offer to help our patients reach their highest levels of recovery.

On this episode we talk all about rehabilitation nursing! We are joined by our SVP of Nursing, Joanne Hoertz as well as physicians, therapists and nurses to help paint the picture on how Brooks Rehabilitation approaches patient care through nursing.

Send us an email with your questions, comments or podcast ideas to [email protected]!

Listen to the full episode on your favorite podcast app! Search ‘Brooks Rehabilitation Podcast.’ You can also listen online. Below is a transcript of our newest episode.

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Podcast Episode


Podcast Transcript

Tracy Davis: Welcome to the Brooks Rehabilitation Podcast. My name is Tracy Davis. This episode, we’re going to be talking all about rehabilitation nursing. We’re going to have Joanne Hoertz, our Senior Vice President of Nursing talk to us, and we’re going to have a new grad who recently actually joined Brooks and why she chose a career in nursing, post-acute nursing and why she chose to work at Brooks. And then we’re going to talk with a couple physicians and therapists about the integral part that our nurses play on our rehab teams.

Tracy Davis: We’re going to get right into the episode but before we do, I want to remind you to go to BrooksRehab.org to learn all about who we are and what we have going on. Again, that’s BrooksRehab.org. Look for @brooksrehab on all social media platforms where we post very frequently of photos, videos and all kinds of things about what we have going on here at Brooks from all over our entire system. And then also go to Careers.BrooksRehab.org if you’re interested in joining our team. Thanks for listening. Let’s get right into the episode.

Tracy Davis: Joanne, thanks for joining. Do you want to introduce yourself and maybe how long you’ve been at Brooks and-

Joanne Hoertz: Sure, hi. My name is Joanne Hoertz and I’m the Senior Vice President for Nursing here at Brooks Rehabilitation and the System Chief Nurse Executive. I’ve been at Brooks Rehabilitation now for 14 years.

Tracy Davis: Okay.

Joanne Hoertz: And I’ve been a nurse for 34 years.

Tracy Davis: Yeah. So I don’t know so I’m sure others don’t as well. What’s a little bit of the beginnings of why did you start your career in the nursing field?

Joanne Hoertz: Sure. I’ve been a nurse my whole career. I went to nursing school right after I graduated from high school.

Tracy Davis: Okay.

Joanne Hoertz: And I chose that profession because I felt it had a lot of opportunity. I saw a lot of variety in the types of different nursing that was at the time in the late eighties was out there and there’s even more opportunity today, 34 years later. So I really enjoyed the fact that there was a career choice that could go to so many different levels and so many different places. And I started working in actually a trauma setting.

Tracy Davis: Oh.

Joanne Hoertz: When I first started in nursing, and then I got more into nursing management, nursing leadership and took advantage of an opportunity of a Rehabilitation Unit Nurse Manager position that was open. So I moved into that and absolutely fell in love with physical medicine and rehabilitation. I realized at that point that you could really make, not only a huge difference in the day-to-day work of the staff, but you could make such a big difference in the lives of individuals and families that were affected by some kind of traumatic disability.

Tracy Davis: So you got into rehab nursing early in your career?

Joanne Hoertz: I did.

Tracy Davis: Okay.

Joanne Hoertz: I got in very early.

Tracy Davis: Okay. And then we’ve spoken with, I’m not sure how the timeline will work on the podcast end, but everyone listening will hear Lauren speak if they haven’t already. And we talked a little bit about the difference in the acute in the rehab, so acute and post-acute nursing. From your perspective, what are some of the biggest differences that you see there?

Joanne Hoertz: Well, one of the biggest differences is that the amount of time that you really get to spend with the patient and the family and the influence that you have long term with the overall wellness and the abilities of that individual and that family to really reintegrate back into their environment, into their community, into their entire life after they’ve had some kind of a problem. So I think the ability to spend time and really get to know your patient is one of the things that nurses like to do. You really are here to try to provide care and also to increase a level of wellness with an individual. And I think in post-acute care, you can particularly do that. Now, some of the post-acute care settings, you’re really looking more at a restorative focus if the individual’s in long term care. But again, you’re maintaining a level of wellness which is really, part of nursing is how do you improve the overall wellness of a community and how do you help individuals to truly function at the top of their level that they can.

Tracy Davis: Okay. So you joined, going back to your timeline a little bit, you joined a rehab nursing unit. So then what led you into– well, was that, that was not in Jacksonville?

Joanne Hoertz: No, that was outside of Philadelphia.

Tracy Davis: Right.

Joanne Hoertz: Yes.

Tracy Davis: Right. As we know here, you’re a big fan of all your sports team from up there.

Joanne Hoertz: Yeah.

Tracy Davis: So what brought you to Florida and to Brooks?

Joanne Hoertz: So Brooks recruited me. Brooks brought me to Florida. I have to say sometimes to the dismay of my family, they were not really thrilled. However, it was an opportunity to work on obtaining a Magnet designation. And that was really the big draw here for me to come to Brooks. Magnet designation recognizes the excellence in nursing and it’s really the highest level of achievement you can get if you have a Magnet designated facility. And at the time there were, I believe, maybe three in the whole country that had a Magnet designation that were freestanding rehabilitation hospitals.

Joanne Hoertz: So the opportunity to come and help a team get established and achieve that level of excellence and that level of recognition really drew me to Brooks. When I got here, I was very much excited to see so many professionals and so many nurses and so many therapists and physicians and case managers, and really all of the team members that were all working so hard to help patients achieve their outcomes, and we had already had established some really high quality outcomes.

Tracy Davis: Mm-hmm.

Joanne Hoertz: So it really was not, while Magnet is a difficult process to go through, that journey is certainly a journey, the team that is here at Brooks, from the leadership level all the way down really made that a fun journey, I have to say.

Tracy Davis: Sure. And we were a very different company back then whenever you started, right? So how have you seen Brooks grow and how have you helped Brooks grow from the nursing side?

Joanne Hoertz: Certainly, when I got here, we only had the rehabilitation hospital from a nursing perspective.

Tracy Davis: Right.

Joanne Hoertz: And then we soon opened a skilled unit within one of the local acute care hospitals.

Tracy Davis: Yep.

Joanne Hoertz: We then expanded our home health division. That really grew. Then we opened another rehabilitation unit down in Daytona and opened a skilled nursing facility, continued to open another skilled nursing facility. So really over the past 14 years, I’ve seen Brooks grow exponentially.

Tracy Davis: Yeah.

Joanne Hoertz: And I’ve been very fortunate that I could grow along with them to help guide nursing practice across the system in all of our different sites.

Tracy Davis: Sure. Yeah, ’08 to even through now, we’ve been growing an unbelievable amount compared to the time before that. Brooks is just continually growing and yeah, I think we have more nurses now than any other job title at Brooks. Nurses, CNAs–

Joanne Hoertz: We do.

Tracy Davis: –in the nursing field.

Joanne Hoertz: We have over 850 nursing team members.

Tracy Davis: Wow. That’s amazing. Just talking a little bit more about rehabilitation nursing since that’s what this whole episode is about and what have you seen from maybe how other facilities handle it versus how Brooks approaches rehab nursing, and overall just the patient care and the team approach that we have, we take here at all of our care settings?

Joanne Hoertz: Mm-hmm. I do think that we approach rehabilitation nursing in a unique way. We really focus on what is the role of the nurse? How do we support that role? How do we provide education? How do we look at nursing research? How do we look at nursing quality? And I think here we’re able to provide a lot of levels of support that help individuals grow in whatever direction they want to go into. We’ve had rehabilitation nurses that have become informaticists. We have had rehabilitation nurses that have become infection preventionists, rehabilitation nurses that have become quality specialists. And by having all of the different opportunities for a nurse to grow-

Tracy Davis: Yeah.

Joanne Hoertz: … they can really continue their career in whatever way they would like. I also think that we do a great job of having a collegial relationship among the care team and having the nursing therapy physician group working really well together to make sure the patient care needs are being met and to make the best possible environment that we can for our staff. We’ve done a really good job also with managing our data and developing ways that we can get back to the staff how they’re doing a great job. So being able to show that all of the work that we’re doing with our quality goals is really effective. And being able to show how the patients have benefited from all that.

Tracy Davis: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, whenever I’m out and about in any of our locations, whether it’s outpatient, skilled nursing, hospital, even outpatient, they don’t have nursing, but you can just see the care that all of our employees are putting into making sure that that patient is getting everything that they need, that they do really, really enjoy their job and what they’re doing and that at the end of the day, the patient wins and that’s all that really matters.

Joanne Hoertz: The patient and the family does win. And I think that the nurse wins as well because people are able to leave feeling like you did something very positive and that you really did have an impact on another individual’s life.

Tracy Davis: And everyone that I’ve talked to and from the nursing side that has been here, that’s what they’ve said, especially versus acute care setting where they’re coming in, it’s a lot more traumatic as far as right after injury or something, and then here, there’s a lot more, I guess, of the hope of getting better, the progression, the every day is a new day kind of an atmosphere that we have at all of our settings.

Joanne Hoertz: And you mentioned a really important word there is hope. And I think it’s a realistic hope that we are able to share and encourage and help grow with the families and the patients, as they go through their recovery journey here with us.

Tracy Davis: Sure. And then let’s talk a little bit about the- you talked about it already a little bit about how we’ve had nurses come in, even CNAs and they get their nursing degree and they continue on in their career path, but, or they become a wound care specialist, or I’ve talked to a lot of those, if anyone hasn’t seen any of those videos, you can go on our YouTube channel and we have some testimonials there of our nurses actually talking about their experience here at Brooks. A lot of our nurses have talked about they love that they’re coming into a system to where that maybe they start at inpatient and they have an interest in skilled nursing or home health, or there’s a lot of opportunities for them to get different experiences. We now have some people that are wanting to start with the new hospital that’s opening up soon here in 2022. So they’re already kind of starting their training process and team building and all that kind of stuff. So it seems like a very unique thing that Brooks offers.

Joanne Hoertz: It is a very unique thing that Brooks offers. And I think that’s one of the things that really makes Brooks stand out as a phenomenal workplace. So we’ve had several nurses, many that have progressed through in their career and started as a nursing assistant and then moved into an RN, an LPN, and then into a leadership role. We’ve had a lot of nurses obtain their certification. We really support people going back to get their Bachelor’s Degree, to get their Certification in Rehabilitation Nursing. We also have the opportunity for people to go through a Transition to Practice Residency Program for nurses.

Tracy Davis: Right.

Joanne Hoertz: And that helps them to really adjust to what does it mean to be a nurse. It’s so important, particularly as nurses come out of programs that they’ve had limited interaction with real life patients and a lot of simulation. Having a Transition to Practice Residency allows that individual nurse to really gain the confidence of the skills that they need to provide care. One of the other things I think that we have done a phenomenal job with is having our own simulation lab.

Tracy Davis: Mm-hmm.

Joanne Hoertz: So there are very few rehabilitation places that have a nursing sim lab. And we’ve been able to get that started. That’s been in place for about three or four years at this point. And we can really capitalize on that by having this Transition to Practice Residency where individuals can come in and really work on what does it mean to start an IV on a patient or to do a dressing change? That’s not something you see everywhere.

Tracy Davis: Yeah.

Joanne Hoertz: And I think having the opportunity to work in the different care settings and see how your patient moves from one care setting to the other is another really cool piece of post-acute care nursing. You can see a patient come in and maybe they go to our Home Health and there’s nurses that are their colleagues that are in Home Health that have provided care to that patient after the nurse took care of the patient in our skilled or rehab hospital setting.

Tracy Davis: Sure. And a lot of our, I’m going to ask you a little more about the sim lab, but a lot of our employees that I’ve talked to as well have mentioned how they like knowing that maybe they’re a inpatient nurse and that patient is going to leave and go start Home Health or skilled nursing, or they know they’re still in good hands at Brooks. And that’s a good, instead of them leaving Brooks and then who knows where they go, what level of care they’re going to get. Because they care about the patient. They want to make- it’s not just clock in, clock out. They want to make sure that the patient’s getting the best care and that must be a great feeling.

Joanne Hoertz: It is. And I think that that also comes through on all of our patient surveys that you can see that the patients feel that the staff care too. It’s really important that the nurse loves the job that they’re doing because that patient feels that. And it’s not just a clock in and clock out. It’s really your profession and the caring shows through and it comes through with what feedback we get from the patients.

Tracy Davis: Sure. And one of my fa- I’ve been editing some of our therapist talk about their, some of the testimonials from them about their experience. And one of them had a great line that you, coming to Brooks is not just a job, it’s a career. You’re actually, you feel like you’re starting a career here with all the opportunities and things in. So we talked about some of the education opportunities and Brooks offers that and Brooks is very big on continuous learning. So you mentioned the sim lab. Let’s talk a little bit more about that just really quick, because like you said, it’s very unique. But we have one or two of the fake, the patients in there that they get to run through simulations on that patient. They can, there’s a glass wall and then somebody can be behind there and actually talk through the patient and simulate scenarios that might happen, simulate a cardiac event.

Joanne Hoertz: Yes.

Tracy Davis: It’s very interesting to someone like me, who’s not clinical.

Joanne Hoertz: Yes. These fake patients, we also call them mannequins.

Tracy Davis: Mannequins, okay.

Joanne Hoertz: High fidelity mannequins, because the high fidelity mannequin or the fake patient can actually respond to what you’re doing.

Tracy Davis: Yeah.

Joanne Hoertz: Which was really the intent and desire. And what makes it unique because it’s not a inexpensive thing-

Tracy Davis: No, no.

Joanne Hoertz: … at all to do. So the patient can actually talk.

Tracy Davis: Yep.

Joanne Hoertz: There is a control area where we can simulate what we want that patient to respond. We can have the patient’s blood pressure change, have their heart rate change, have their lung sounds change, all of these basic assessment pieces that you really need to know to be a strong, competent nurse. And those are the things that allow the nurse to learn from what a different environment is going to do for that patient. And how do you respond quickly? Because when you come across a patient that’s having any kind of distress, it’s really your prior experiences that help you to resolve that situation with the best possible outcome. So being able to work with a mannequin who someone is controlling that their blood pressure drops or their blood pressure goes up, or they suddenly can’t breathe and you can see their different levels of distress allows that person to practice in a safe environment before they get out on a unit where they’re encountering a deteriorating patient and are scared and don’t know what to do.

Tracy Davis: Absolutely. And again, in this podcast, we talked to Lauren, I’m sure, I think you’ll be first in the line here on the podcast of the order of the podcast, but she mentioned your nursing confidence. And she said that when, as a new grad coming in, that helped her so- like, our nursing residency program, and whenever she actually had her first day by herself, that she had that nursing confidence that whenever she went into the rooms and was dealing with some of our patients that she didn’t know what to do, she had that built inside of her already before something real happens.

Joanne Hoertz: I do think that that really has helped to build our nursing confidence for particularly the new graduate nurses and even any nurse, when you start out, there is a lot of anxiety. Am I doing the right thing?

Tracy Davis: Right.

Joanne Hoertz: Our motto is first cause no harm. You don’t want to do something wrong. You want to make sure you’re doing everything correctly and to the best of our ability. So by having the sim lab and the residency program, we can really focus on the things that people might not have gotten to experience in nursing school.

Tracy Davis: Sure.

Joanne Hoertz: Because you’re never going to experience everything. There’s always going to be that first IV stick, that first patient that is coding on you, that first time that you have even a really agitated or disturbed family. How do you manage those communications? How do you deescalate a situation? In rehabilitation nursing, particularly with the brain injury population, you have to be able to deescalate a situation and be able to manage a patient who has different levels of responsiveness.

Tracy Davis: Sure.

Joanne Hoertz: So being able to teach people specifically about that and practice those scenarios is critical.

Tracy Davis: Absolutely. So as we’re wrapping up here, is there anything else you’d like to say about rehab nursing? Why should, from a, maybe if someone’s listening and they’re interested in working at Brooks, what would you tell them? What should they know?

Joanne Hoertz: So I think as a nurse, when you have a patient come in that can’t walk and can’t talk and can’t feed themselves and you see that person get better and they leave being able to walk, being able to communicate with you, being able to feed themselves. That is a feeling of tremendous purpose that you’ve really served to really make a difference. You don’t always get that opportunity when you’re working in other environments. Our patients, really, they go home, which is a big difference. You’re working in an environment where there’s a lot of hope, as you mentioned, there’s a lot of support and there’s a lot of love and compassion. So I think if you’re thinking about where do you want to go next in your nursing career, having the opportunity to truly make such a difference and be a member of an interdisciplinary team is really where rehabilitation nursing and post-acute care is.

Tracy Davis: Absolutely. Joanne, thanks for your time and for coming on the podcast.

Joanne Hoertz: Thank you, Tracy.

Jim Edwards: Hi, my name’s Jim Edwards. I’m the Magnet Program Coordinator for Brooks Rehabilitation Hospital. I’ve been working for Brooks since 1984. Rehab nursing is really all about making a difference for our patients. From my perspective, we are the discipline that helps glue the whole system together in our inpatient settings, whether in one of our skilled nursing facilities or in one of our hospital settings, that it’s not just about, well, you had a stroke and we’re going to help you recover from the acute phase. We’re going to work in collaboration with our therapy disciplines, with our medical staff, to bring it all together, to help you move forward through the system and get to that next level so we can hopefully get you back home.

Tracy Davis: Absolutely. So it’s really just treating the person as a whole versus something individual that they’re, I mean, obviously there’s specific things that they’re here for, but we’re treating them as a whole person so that they can get back to living their life as normal.

Jim Edwards: Absolutely. And it’s not just about treating that individual, but also their family, because when they leave here, they’re going to work with their family, their significant others, to continue making progress toward a higher level of independence. One of the great things about being here is every day you see some minor miracle with someone. It’s not necessarily that the person that one day can’t walk and the next day can, but all those small incremental steps to being better able to care for themselves, whether it’s feeding, dressing, their grooming skills, their memory, their mobility. And again, no discipline here, whether it’s nursing or therapy, does it in the vacuum. We’re all working together toward common goals to help our patients and make a difference.

Tracy Davis: Great, Jim, thank you for taking the time.

Jim Edwards: You’re welcome. Thank you.

Parag Shah: Hi, this is Parag Shah, Medical Director at Brooks Rehabilitation – Bartram Hospital. I thoroughly enjoy working with our rehabilitation nurses, day and night, 24/7. Our nurses are the core of our team. They always bring a smile to my face. They have a great attitude and very collaborative. The nurses are going to be vital to the success of our team for the entire organization actually, when you think about it. They really are a key to success for our entire organization. I can see how much our team cares for their patients and their colleagues. Yeah, our team is very collaborative. So we like to meet daily as touchpoints to check in with the team, see how everyone’s doing, want to make sure everyone’s having a great experience while we work together and take great care of patients. From a collaborative standpoint, our nurses and therapists work very closely together. And we also work with our leadership team, case management and physicians daily. And I really think we have great relationships and we have created a excellent place where people want to come to work every day.

Tracy Davis: Thanks for taking the time.

Parag Shah: Thank you.

Michael Greene: Hi, I’m Michael Greene. I’ve been a PT at Brooks Rehab Hospital for the last 19 years. The nicest thing about Brooks in general is that what happens is we’ve been working in conjunction with the nurses. So it’s built, it’s a team effort. It’s not just the nurses are by themself and they support the PT or the OT department very well, therapy in general because if there’s something that’s coming up or something’s wrong with a patient, we find out almost in real time what’s going on because nurses are right there on the floor with us. If we’re passing by, they’ll say hey, something is going on with this patient. So we know exactly what to do and how to handle it, and vice versa. So it’s a very nice mixture that it’s almost a family, it’s a blend that we work together and we’re looking out for the best interest of the patient.

Michael Greene: The beauty about working here is at Brooks you’ll find that everyone on this floor is treated equally. There is no all-superior status or anything like that. The doctors, the nurses, the therapists, they all work together as one unit and everything is for the outcome of the patients. So that’s what we work on. One of the nice things, we have a nurse on this particular floor, her name is Lily. And I walked into the room just the other day, and it was nice to walk in there. The patient is aphasic and she was trying to reach across to him to let him know that hey, he needs to eat all of his food and stuff like that. And she wrote this nice little note so that way he can see it. He understands what he’s seeing, but he just can’t speak and let us know how he’s feeling, but he kept on pointing to the sign, and that was, it was very touching because it shows that hey, they’re trying to reach the patients on different levels.

Tracy Davis: That’s great. Well, Michael, thank you for taking the time.

Michael Greene: Thank you very much.

Lauren Waller: My name is Lauren Waller. I’m a new grad Registered Nurse. Got my degree in May. Started in the residency program and I’ll be moving on to the Bartram Location as soon as it opens.

Tracy Davis: Oh, great, great.

Lauren Waller: Yeah.

Tracy Davis: Yeah. So what made you, first of all, what made you decide to become a nurse? Were you maybe in a different career or anything like that before or?

Lauren Waller: So I’d always had kind of an interest in the medical side and actually, this is a crazy story, but I got diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes my second year in college. And I went to the Mayo Clinic and I was there for six days and I just kind of fell in love with my nurses. And I felt like they were the ones who were actually there for me the entire way. They helped me through everything. They taught me how to do this whole new lifestyle. And I really just was motivated by that. And I was like, I think that’s where I’m going to make the most impact in my life.

Tracy Davis: Right.

Lauren Waller: So that really was my transition that helped me decide, okay, nursing is for me.

Tracy Davis: That’s great. It’s funny that since I’ve been doing this podcast and talking to people and I ask them kind of their little bit of their origin stories to why they chose their career path and a lot of it is through something like that.

Lauren Waller: Yeah.

Tracy Davis: Like my brother had an accident and I saw how the therapist helped him get back to walking or-

Lauren Waller: Yeah.

Tracy Davis: Or my mom was a nurse or some sort of a hands on experience that lets you see the impact that the career has. So when did rehabilitation nursing come into your purview as an option in your nursing path?

Lauren Waller: Honestly, I didn’t even consider it until I was applying for jobs and I saw that Brooks had a new grad residency program and I was like, well, I didn’t even know they had nursing. I thought it was all physical therapy. So I looked into it and I kind of just did my own research. And I kind of like the idea of having patients who are there to get better. And when you think of the hospital, you think of people there, it’s kind of a negative connotation and negative light. And with rehab, it was like every story was a success story and someone starting from zero and coming back to doing stuff that they used to. And I really liked the idea of seeing people grow and develop and become stronger instead of watching them get sicker, which I kind of think you see more in your acute hospital setting.

Tracy Davis: Yeah. So do you want to describe maybe a little bit of what your, from your perspective, the difference between a post-acute hospital like ours and then what our new one will be like at Bartram versus what an acute care hospital is like?

Lauren Waller: Yeah. Yeah, definitely. I feel like everything seems so kind of just down and dark and gloomy almost.

Tracy Davis: Because they’re catching people right after–

Lauren Waller: Yeah.

Tracy Davis: –they just had an accident or something.

Lauren Waller: Exactly. Yeah. And I just feel like there’s not much positivity in the hospital, but coming to Brooks and since working here, it’s like you walk in and your patients are actually smiling and they want to get better and they’re there to improve and to get better, not get worse like it sometimes seems when you’re in the hospital. So I think definitely just seeing the positivity here and just the success stories is what really made me feel like, okay, this is where I want to be for sure. And I think another great thing too is, that’s different than just a normal acute hospital is here, there’s so much teamwork. You’re right there working with the therapist, with the physicians, with your CNAs and nurses all together. And I don’t think you get that in an acute care setting. I think here everyone’s helping each other out. So it makes the day go by so much faster and it helps the patient have a more successful time here than they would in just any other hospital.

Tracy Davis: Yeah. So I, in this podcast episode, we’re going to talk to Dr. Shaw and I asked him a little bit about this, but can you talk a little bit about that team approach that we have at Brooks as far as we fully recognize that for the best patient care we have our physicians, therapists, nursing, everybody’s working on the same page together for that best outcome. So what’s it like in your experience?

Lauren Waller: Yeah. I think the biggest thing for me, where I kind of realized like, oh, wow, there is a team atmosphere here is just being in a different acute care hospital. I hear all the horror stories about the physicians and it’s like they’re on a whole other level, top tier compared to nurses. And don’t get in the way of this physician, that physician.

Tracy Davis: Walking on eggshells a lot.

Lauren Waller: Yeah, absolutely. And here it’s like I look over and the physician is right next to me in the nurse’s station working right next to me, asking me questions, we’re talking together about the patient, we’re coming up with ideas together. And I never would’ve imagined that. I was terrified talking to the first doctor here. And then I was like, wait, they’re actually a real person. They’re so nice.

Tracy Davis: That’s funny for me to hear just because I know most of our physicians here and then have talked to each of them and that’s funny that I’ve never worked at another healthcare company. So, but I have, that is a thing you hear about physicians and whatnot and reputations and whatnot. But yeah, all of our physicians are so approachable. They feel like they’re just another, I mean you have a respect for them of their level of knowledge and expertise for what they do, but they just, they feel like they’re our coworkers.

Lauren Waller: Exactly. Yeah. And it’s not like a one is superior than the other. I don’t feel that here at all, so.

Tracy Davis: And because that kind of mentality doesn’t help the patient.

Lauren Waller: No, yeah.

Tracy Davis: It’s very self-serving to the individual. It’s not really the approach that we do here. So that’s great to hear from your perspective.

Lauren Waller: Yeah.

Tracy Davis: So you recently had a, for people listening, we have a 90 day feedback session for our new employees. You start, 90 days later, you get invited to a meeting with our CEO. Was Doug there?

Lauren Waller: Yeah, Doug was there.

Tracy Davis: Yeah. So, and was anyone else there?

Lauren Waller: Yeah. There was so many different people on-

Tracy Davis: As far as from our leadership, was there any-

Lauren Waller: Yeah, I think there was about six or seven of them there.

Tracy Davis: Oh great.

Lauren Waller: So, yeah.

Tracy Davis: Okay, cool. I used to do it and there was only four of us at the time. So that’s good. All of the employees get to share feedback of good things that’s happened, things we need to improve on. Does he still ask you if you were CEO, what’s one thing you would-

Lauren Waller: Yes. Yep, definitely.

Tracy Davis: Okay, so he still asked that question. So at the end of the meeting, he asked if you were CEO, what’s one thing you would do, implement, process, whatever. But I heard, that’s how we kind of got in touch here is that you had great things to say and whatnot. So what kind of stuff did you bring up at that meeting?

Lauren Waller: Yeah, so I was focused more on nursing. I was, I think-

Tracy Davis: Sure.

Lauren Waller: … one of two nurses who was in the 90 day session and what I suggested is getting the residency program as a new grad nurse out there more because I know a lot of nurses currently haven’t been getting the same amount of training as other nurses before COVID.

Tracy Davis: Sure.

Lauren Waller: So I had suggested that we try our best just to get out there all the information on the residency program because had I seen that as soon as I graduated, I probably would’ve been working here so much sooner.

Tracy Davis: Okay.

Lauren Waller: So I suggested that we kind of advertise that more, maybe get more of a website open about it, do more with social media.

Tracy Davis: And I do know from the marketing side that we, that that is happening, that’s going to be happening.

Lauren Waller: Yeah, that’s awesome.

Tracy Davis: So that’s great. So tell me what, I know you’re not a representative of the nursing residency but tell me what you know about that. Why did that interest you so much?

Lauren Waller: Yeah, so I just felt like I needed more knowledge, more background, more hands on before I felt comfortable working by myself in the hospital. And when I saw the information, when I found it looking online for jobs, that’s exactly what the residency program said it did. So I was like, okay, let me try it out. And I honestly never thought I’d feel this comfortable working in the hospital at all.

Tracy Davis: That’s great.

Lauren Waller: I just started my first day on my own about three weeks ago. And I was like, I went in and I wasn’t even nervous. And I was like, I never would’ve expected it to be like that, but it’s just because of how well prepared the residency program got me and the orientation process here.

Tracy Davis: That’s great. It’s different whenever it’s like okay, this is the real game here, you’re finally walking on the field by yourself for the first time.

Lauren Waller: Exactly.

Tracy Davis: So it helps you just feel more comfortable and confident in what you’re doing.

Lauren Waller: Definitely. Yeah. It boosted my nursing confidence. Everyone talks about your nursing confidence and it really did boost that for me.

Tracy Davis: That way you’re not second guessing decisions you’re making.

Lauren Waller: Exactly.

Tracy Davis: And that you know that you’re doing the right thing for the patient.

Lauren Waller: Yeah, exactly. And patient safety is always first, so.

Tracy Davis: Of course.

Lauren Waller: I definitely felt like I’m not putting the patients at risk, myself at risk, no one at risk, whenever I finally started on my own. So that’s the ultimate goal is to keep everyone safe, so.

Tracy Davis: And lastly, before I let you go, what’s it been like working with the other nurses and CNAs and just learning from them. And a lot of them have been here for a long, long time. And how’s it been working on your team with your other nurses?

Lauren Waller: It’s been fantastic. I mean, again, like I said, the first day, the reason I wasn’t scared to be on my own is because I walk in and my charge nurse, we do our huddle before we start the day off and she was like, oh yeah, everybody, today’s Lauren’s first day by herself and everyone all day long, it was too much. No, I’m kidding. But they all were like, if you need any help, just let us know. They would come up to me all throughout the day, if you have any questions, we’re here for you. Every single person still today they-

Tracy Davis: Because they remember what it was like on their first day.

Lauren Waller: Yeah, exactly. And everyone’s always checking in with me, are you doing okay? Are you doing okay? Even our nurse supervisors, they’ll come up to me and be like hey, do you need any help? How are you doing? So that definitely made a huge impact too. Because you don’t find a lot of coworkers and that teamwork in a normal hospital setting.

Tracy Davis: Yeah. I mean your success is everyone’s success. Why would we all, not just for the goals for the team and patient satisfaction and stuff like that, but just sharing in that success is everyone’s goal. I mean, why would they not want you to succeed? So that’s amazing. That’s awesome.

Lauren Waller: Yeah, exactly. Everyone helping everyone.

Tracy Davis: Yeah, absolutely. Well, anything else you wanted to say about nursing, being a new grad and starting off your career here at Brooks?

Lauren Waller: I guess I just probably want to end with the fact that I think you just got to get out there, you just have to do it for yourself. And I think this is a perfect spot to get that knowledge, that confidence and just have that feeling of being comfortable when you first step on the hospital floor by yourself, because that is a scary feeling, no matter what. And I think here at Brooks, it’s just a well-rounded program, well-rounded group of people. And I just think that that’s something you can’t find anywhere else.

Tracy Davis: That’s a perfect way to end it. Thank you so much for coming on our podcast.

Lauren Waller: Thank you so much.

Tracy Davis: Thanks for listening to this special episode of the Brooks Rehabilitation Podcast, all about rehabilitation nursing. I hope that you learned more about rehabilitation nursing and what makes us a little bit different here at Brooks as to how we approach patient care through our nurses. Again, if you are considering joining our team here at Brooks, go to Careers.BrooksRehab.org, careers.brooksrehab.org. And if you want to learn anything more about us, everything about our entire system of care is on BrooksRehab.org.


To listen to more full episodes from the Brooks Rehabilitation Podcast, search for ‘Brooks Rehabilitation Podcast’ on your favorite podcast app!

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Medical Reviewer

Joanne Hoertz, RN, MSN, CRRN

Senior Vice President for Nursing and System Chief Nursing Officer
Joanne S. Hoertz, RN, MSN, CRRN, currently serves as the Senior Vice President for Nursing and System Chief Nursing Officer at Brooks Rehabilitation. In this role, she collaboratively provides the clinical, financial and administrative responsibility for nursing services with local nurse leaders across all of the Brooks Rehabilitation locations. Ms. Hoertz has been practicing nursing for over 30 years. She has been working in the specialty area of Rehabilitation Nursing for over 28 years and in the senior nurse leader/nurse executive role of an organization for the past 20 years. Ms. Hoertz has progressed from a trauma staff nurse through the many positions and levels of nursing management and leadership over the years. In these roles she has lead teams through patient care redesign, Magnet designation, various state, local and specialty organization certifications/ accreditations and created new leadership teams.
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