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“My Sweet Spot“: Ignacio Perez's Return to Rehabilitation Nursing after Acute Care

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Two years after completing his clinicals and starting as a nurse in the Nerve, Muscle & Bone Innovation Center at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, Ignacio Perez, MSN, RN, started thinking about making a change.

“I'd stayed in touch with friends from nursing school, and some of them were working in ICUs and emergency rooms,” he said. “I wondered, ‘What is it like to work there?’ I felt an itch to try it out and see what life was like in an acute-care hospital.”

Shortly after, he was hired to work at a Chicago hospital's step-down unit, and gave his notice at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab.

“I saw a lot of patients who came right out of surgery or other procedures, and they needed close observation. Or, they came from the emergency room with chest pain or other complications,” Ignacio said. “I also floated down to the emergency room, so I got to see what the flow there was like, too.

But just six months after leaving Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, Ignacio came to a realization: he had learned a lot at the acute-care hospital, but rehabilitation nursing was his calling.

I have the ability to put in quality work, spend time with and get to know patients, and hone my craft.

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“Overall, I found the pace in the acute-care hospital setting to be very fast — if not frenetic — and staffing ratios could be a challenge when supporting patients who were not stable,” he said.

Now, he's back with his old unit at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab.

He said he appreciates Shirley Ryan AbilityLab's focus on nurses' wellbeing, with the nursing team given wide authority to set their own schedules. And, he's happy to be treating rehabilitation inpatients with complex conditions in an environment where he can witness them progress and reach their rehabilitation goals.

“I'm in a sweet spot here,” he said. “I have the ability to put in quality work, spend time with and get to know patients, and hone my craft. The pace is good — busy yet steady — and I am able to produce my best work and provide quality care.”