Nursing with the Language of Compassion: Ali Lucas' Journey of Impact and Connection
Now a charge nurse in Shepherd Center’s Comprehensive Rehabilitation Unit (CRU), Ali Lucas’ passion for helping others has profoundly impacted patients’ lives.
Ali Lucas RN, BSN, CRRN always wanted to make a difference in people's lives. As she embarked on her college journey, she found herself drawn to studying Spanish, thinking it might lead her toward a fulfilling career. However, as time passed, she discovered that teaching or translating full-time wasn't what she envisioned for herself.
It wasn't until she began working at a women's health clinic that everything clicked into place. Working alongside dedicated medical professionals, Lucas had an epiphany: nursing was the missing piece that perfectly blended her skills, compassion, and language abilities.
“Knowing Spanish has been important to connect with patients who otherwise might not be understood or feel heard,” says Lucas. “Nursing has provided the opportunity to blend my passions for language and helping others.”
Once she graduated from college, Lucas had her heart set on becoming a mother-baby nurse, where she could simultaneously provide care for both a mother and baby. However, fate had other plans for her when she received a call from Shepherd Center that would completely transform her career path, allowing her to connect with patients on a new level.
“I got really lucky getting a call back at Shepherd because I truly did not know how amazing a place it is,” says Lucas. “What is special is that we get to form relationships with our patients being inpatient for so long. I have made lifelong friends with people I don't think I ever would have crossed paths with otherwise.”
As she reflects on her career, Lucas finds that it's not a specific day that stands out but rather a collection of remarkable moments etched in her memory.
“I often tell my patients that every day may not be a good day, but there are good moments every day,” explains Lucas. “When I think back on my career, I don’t have a single day that is my favorite day; it's a series of moments that pop out: seeing a patient get movement or function back or even walking again, a potluck with my amazing coworkers, the endless nights broken up by laughter and connection. Walking into Shepherd gives me a sense of peace because it feels like home.”
Now in her eighth year at Shepherd Center, Lucas shares her heartfelt advice to anyone looking to enter the nursing field: “Make certain your heart is in it,” she says. “It's hard, physical work and long hours. If it's not just work but also your passion, then laughter, stories, and connection make the hard moments just part of the ride.”
Written by Lindsey Rieben
Shepherd Center provides world-class clinical care, research, and family support for people experiencing the most complex conditions, including spinal cord and brain injuries, multi-trauma, traumatic amputations, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and pain. An elite center recognized as both Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News as one of the nation’s top hospitals for rehabilitation. Shepherd Center treats thousands of patients annually with unmatched expertise and unwavering compassion to help them begin again.