New RN first job on Spinal Cord Injury Unit

  1. Hello,

    I finally landed my first job! After 10 months of searching I've been offered a position in a nurse residency program on the SCI unit at the VA. I would love to hear about other nurses' experiences who work on SCI units.
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  2. 4 Comments

  3. by   deliverator
    Hi,

    I work in the SCI unit at the LBVA, ward V1. Welcome to the team. I hope you're up for a challenge because working in SCI is hard work.

    Patients are heavy - proper body mechanics is a must. You can get a back support belt from the VA for free.

    Bowel and Bladder management is the main focus of SCI nursing and is the main diagnostic criteria for SCI. Be prepared for bowel care (suppository insertion, digital stiumlation, digital evacuation, tap water enemas, and bowel preps).

    Wound care - patients develop pressure sores due to loss of sensation and movement and not turning frequently. You will develop great wound care skills changing dressings daily and twice per shift.

    On all 3 SCI units at the VA, we do team nursing. Depending on census we can have anywhere from 2 -3 teams. Each team is headed by an RN. Each team leader is responsible for medication administration, physical assessments, and checking orders for all patients on their team. Patients per team could range anywhere from 5-10 patients. RNs not team leading, LVNs, and Patient Care Techs are delegated to patient care (caregivers) between the teams. Being assigned as a caregiver, you are responsible for bowel and bladder care, bed bath or shower, dressing changes, turning patients q2hrs, I&O charting, and care charting. You can have anywhere from 3-6 patients assigned to you for care. As an RN assigned to caregiving, you also are responsible for physical assessments for any of the patients on the floor.

    Anyways, we're all a bunch of a great people. If you have any other questions, just let me know.
  4. by   nlsRN
    Quote from deliverator
    Hi,

    I work in the SCI unit at the LBVA, ward V1. Welcome to the team. I hope you're up for a challenge because working in SCI is hard work.

    Patients are heavy - proper body mechanics is a must. You can get a back support belt from the VA for free.

    Bowel and Bladder management is the main focus of SCI nursing and is the main diagnostic criteria for SCI. Be prepared for bowel care (suppository insertion, digital stiumlation, digital evacuation, tap water enemas, and bowel preps).

    Wound care - patients develop pressure sores due to loss of sensation and movement and not turning frequently. You will develop great wound care skills changing dressings daily and twice per shift.

    On all 3 SCI units at the VA, we do team nursing. Depending on census we can have anywhere from 2 -3 teams. Each team is headed by an RN. Each team leader is responsible for medication administration, physical assessments, and checking orders for all patients on their team. Patients per team could range anywhere from 5-10 patients. RNs not team leading, LVNs, and Patient Care Techs are delegated to patient care (caregivers) between the teams. Being assigned as a caregiver, you are responsible for bowel and bladder care, bed bath or shower, dressing changes, turning patients q2hrs, I&O charting, and care charting. You can have anywhere from 3-6 patients assigned to you for care. As an RN assigned to caregiving, you also are responsible for physical assessments for any of the patients on the floor.

    Anyways, we're all a bunch of a great people. If you have any other questions, just let me know.
    Thank you!
  5. by   crich1234
    Hello Deliverator...
    I was recently interviewed with the SCI unit at LBVA. Initially it was with one nurse manager then she brought two additional managers to continue the interview. Its been two weeks since and I'm anxious to hear back. I was told that HR would contact me to get my approval to contact my references which also includes my immediate supervisor of my current employment. I was hoping to hear from them by now but have not. With two weeks gone by should I assume I was not selected?
  6. by   Jonsushi
    I work on the spinal cord unit and it is very intense. Patient demand is crazy, but you can't really blame them when you are in a unit where people are either incomplete or complete paras or quads. As the previous person said bowels, turning, and cathing are a HUGE component in this unit. I work as a bowel/shower tech on the weekends and it can be very tiring (aside from my regular duties). My best advice is to protect your back as best as you can. As of now I have severe back pain around my thoracic and it travels to my neck and shoulder. It could be I did not use body mechanics correctly, but at the same time it could be over exhaustion. We have patients that can be as little as 100 pounds or over 400 pounds. Wear a back brace and always ask for help.

    Always make sure you check the patients butt religiously to see if there are any pressure sores that can be caught and prevented. Good luck

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