Everything I've Learned While Working With Spinal Cord Injury Patients

Everything I've Learned While Working With Spinal Cord Injury Patients

You would think that these patients, who are almost all paralyzed in some capacity, would be extremely negative and frustrated. But it's quite the opposite.


This spring semester, I started working at The Shepherd Center in Atlanta. The Shepherd Center is one of the nation's top 10 rehabilitation hospitals. It treats around 900inpatientst from all over the US and the world, and specializes in treating spinal cord and brain injuries.

I applied at the end of last semester to work and volunteer in one of their physical therapy gyms. In fact, I got the inspiration to write my "career soulmate" article from attending the volunteer orientation and taking a tour of the hospital. I was in awe of the facilities, professionalism, and expertise of the staff. After lots of paperwork and an interview, I started working as a gym runner in one of the Shepherd Center's Spinal Cord Injury Physical Therapy gyms. It has been eye-opening and humbling.

Every Tuesday and Thursday, I work from 9 am - 12 pm. The physical and occupational therapists treat patients while I run around grabbing anything they need, cleaning work stations, sanitizing physical therapy equipment, and collecting personalized wheelchairs for the patients. While I am learning a huge amount about this specialized form of physical therapy, I have also learned so much about the psychological side of these traumatic injuries.

You would think that these patients, who are almost all paralyzed in some capacity, would be extremely negative and frustrated. But it's quite the opposite. Of course, as everyone does, they have their good and bad days but for the most part, they have a positive attitude and happy demeanor. They have each formed personal relationships with their therapists and easily converse about their daily lives.

Recently, I had the pleasure of witnessing a Shepherd Center graduation. The patient's family members flew in from out of town to be there for the transition of this inpatient to an outpatient facility. Tears were streaming down each of their faces as the longest, toughest period of the injury was ending and a new chapter was starting. You could see the pain on their faces that their loved one's injury had caused for all of them, not just the patient. But the support of great physical therapists, nurses, and other staff helped them maintain hope through the trauma.

I have learned so much from the SCI patients at Shepherd but I think the most important one is simple: sometimes the things you want most in life take the most time. Nothing worth having happens instantly, it takes time and hard work. I listened to a sermon at church recently that said that "we live in a microwave age." We want everything to happen right away and get frustrated when it takes a long time to see the hard work pay off. But the Shepherd Center patients have taught me how patience, hard work, and a positive attitude can make the biggest difference in the recovery process.

So far, I have loved my experience working at a rehabilitation hospital. Not only will this better prepare me for my career as a physical therapist but it will also help me become a more compassionate, and grateful person. The Shepherd staff are changing lives on a daily basis and I am proud to be able to do something to help, no matter how small that something might be.

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13 Things All Nursing Majors Know Really Well, Besides The Inside Of Their Eyelids

Ah yes, multiple night shifts, in a row. Splendid.

College. The true test of how well you're able to balance sleep, school, and a social life all at once. Each student knows this struggle all too well, but nursing students are forced to take this juggling act to the extreme. Between early morning clinicals, studying, homework, PrepUs, and care plans there is barely any time left to have a social life, or let alone sleep. To prove the struggle, here are 13 things that all nursing majors know too well.

1. How all the professors acted during your first week of nursing school

2. When your clinical instructor makes you arrive at 6 a.m. sharp every week and stay until 4 p.m.

3. When your professors schedule two tests in the same week along with 25 PrepU quizzes

4. When your test answer was correct but not the MOST correct

5. When you go home for break and your family members ask you how nursing school is going

6. When you somehow find time to go out but don't know how to dress in something other than scrubs

7. When your patient presses the call light for the 100th time in the last 10 minutes

8. When your clinical instructor lets you pass meds and start an IV all in the same day

9. How you feel when your patient says, "You're going to be a great nurse someday!"

10. When your friends get upset that you can never hang out with them anymore

11. When you argue with your professor on a test question and earn the whole class points back

12. How you felt after you successfully gave your first shot to a patient

13. And when you realize that one day all of this stress and hard work will finally pay off and you will have the job of your dreams!

Cover Image Credit: @greysabc

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High School Seniors Should Be Excited For College, Not Scared

Even though it seems stressful and it is a big new place, it will be some of the best memories you will have for life.


Going into the summer after my high school graduation, all I could think about was college, and how I was going to prepare to go to a new school and move away from home. Just know, it is not as stressful as you prepare yourself for it to be. You don't need to worry about not having any friends or not knowing how to get to all the different buildings because you have to remember everyone else on campus has been in the exact same position you are in, and there are tons of people on campus to help you.

One of the things I was most worried about was classes and how to know which classes to take. My advice is to go to counseling and plan out your classes before you register. Planning out classes will drastically help you stay on track and the counselors will help you make a balanced schedule that you can actually handle.

Another piece of advice would be to not bring as much stuff for your dorm as you think you will need. By all means, bring the essential things that you will need, but remember a dorm room is very small and you share it with another person. You won't have a ton of space for extra stuff and you want to have space to move around and actually live in your dorm.

Finally, if you are concerned about meeting people and making friends, just try and be as outgoing and open as possible. Everyone else in the dorms is just as nervous as you are too meet people, it really helps to try to branch out. Joining clubs or greek life also helps you meet people around campus with common interests as you.

College is not something to be scared of. Even though it seems stressful and it is a big new place, it will be some of the best memories you will have for life.


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