Brooke Collentro, RN
Brooke Collentro didn’t know much about inpatient rehabilitation when she was still in nursing school at Salve Regina University. It was only when she interviewed for a job on the Vanderbilt Rehabilitation inpatient unit at Newport Hospital that she began to recognize the unique aspects of the role.
She explains, “We see them for a little bit longer than some of the other floors, so we are able to establish a longer relationship with our patients and their families. It’s great to see people get better and stronger, and be able to get back to their normal lives.”
Collentro joined the Vanderbilt team in August of 2020, right in the heart of the pandemic. Despite the challenges, she stresses the positive side of rehab nursing, even for post-COVID patients.
“For us in rehab, we have patients who were sick with COVID—and we see them after they've been really, really sick. You think about these people who were intubated and having machines breathe for them and just really, really not doing well, and eventually they walk out of here.”
She credits her colleagues and the support they give each other for keeping up her spirits. “It's tough to work through a pandemic, no matter what situation you're in, what floor you're on,” Collentro says.
“We work really well as a team so we kind of get each other through it. Everybody's going through it together so everybody's really supportive of each other, and that makes it a lot easier.”
In the end, for Collentro, it’s the ability to truly connect with patients that keeps her coming back. “Just being their cheerleaders and letting them know that they can do it. It’s great watching them change as they participate in their therapies and as they get stronger and healthier, to see how much happier they are with themselves,” she explains. “A lot of times they'll say, ‘We really couldn't have done it without the support of the nurses and the nursing staff.’ And it just...it does mean a lot.”
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