Shepherd Center Nurses Have Distinctive Qualities That Patients and Families Need
Gail Greene, RN, BSN, CRRN, nursing manager for Shepherd Center’s brain injury units, reflects on the jobs nurses do.
Gail Greene, RN, BSN, CRRN, has 39 years of experience as a registered nurse. She began her Shepherd Center career in March 2007 and is responsible for the nursing staff and the day-to-day operations of Shepherd Center’s brain injury units.
Q: What is distinctive to you about Shepherd Center’s nurses?
A: They’re motivated. They are very nurturing people. They love developing relationships with patients and families. Our nurses have a unique opportunity to help take someone from a very difficult place in their lives and feel they’ve made a difference in helping them heal and return to a level of independence.
And it’s rewarding when those patients come back on their own terms. I know when I’m in my office and I hear one of our nurses shout, “Look at you! Look at you!” that means a patient has come back to see us! We love those visits.
Q: What do you tell families when you first meet them?
A: I try to make sure they know everyone here cares and that we want what’s best for them and the patient. It’s important to let families know that we’re here to listen. And that we’re going to do as much as we possibly can to support them. It’s not just about the patient. We take care of everybody here.
Q: What’s the most important thing you have learned directly from patients?
A: There is always hope. That’s said a lot here, but it’s said because it’s true. Things can happen down the road that totally surprise you. People have incredibly strong spirits, and we should never give up hope.
I learned that directly from one young man who was a patient here years ago. He sustained a brain injury after a car accident, and when he first got here, he was in as bad a shape as anyone I’ve seen. Today, he’s a nurse. He invited me to his nursing school graduation, and it was such a moving experience. When he visits, he represents hope walking in the door.
Q: What drew you to a career in healthcare?
A: My mother told me that from the age of three, I told everyone I was going to be a singing nurse. Who knows what I meant? I do sing at church and I’ve been a nurse my whole career. So I guess you can say I have lived my 3-year-old self’s dream!
University of Pittsburg
B.S. in Nursing
Member, Association of Rehabilitation Nursing
Parish Nurse, American Nurses Association
- Skiing is a Greene family tradition. Gail’s Vermont-born, ski-crazy husband taught her to ski. Together, they served on the National Ski Patrol. Their kids began skiing as soon as they could walk.
- Greene has three sons and three grandsons. “We can’t seem to make anything but boys in this family!”
- Her father was an active-duty U.S. Army soldier. Growing up, Greene attended 13 different schools, including stints in Germany and Hawaii.
- Her favorite place to be: “Wherever my grandchildren are…or hiking in the woods. That’s nice, too!”
Interviewed by Phillip Jordan
Photos by Louie Favorite
Shepherd Center, located in Atlanta, Georgia, is a private, not-for-profit hospital specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, spine and chronic pain, and other neuromuscular conditions. Founded in 1975, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the nation. In its more than four decades, Shepherd Center has grown from a six-bed rehabilitation unit to a world-renowned, 152-bed hospital that treats more than 935 inpatients, 541 day program patients and more than 7,300 outpatients each year.