Former CNA finds her passion as a neuroscience nurse

CNA Rachel Krueger
As a neuroscience nurse, Rachel Krueger, RN, says, “It’s incredibly rewarding to see a patient come to the unit who might not be able to talk or walk or feed themselves and watch them walk out of here.”

Rachel Krueger comes from a long line of educators.

“I thought I wanted to be a teacher,” she says. “But on my last day to declare a major at Mount Mercy, I switched to nursing. I knew I could still care for people, but in a different way.”

After graduation, UI Hospitals & Clinics was her first-choice employer.

There are so many resources here. I appreciate our shared governance committees. You have the ability to really impact the hospital as a whole.

— Krueger, RN, BSN

Finding her way to neuroscience

Krueger was open-minded about her nursing path. At 16, she became certified as a CNA and loved caring for populations both young and old.

“But when I interviewed at UI Health Care in oncology, they asked if I’d be interested in neuroscience,” says Krueger. “I was interested because someone I knew had had spinal surgery. So, I said yes, and I’ve been on the neuroscience inpatient unit ever since.”

Now that she’s found her passion, Krueger encourages all nurses to consider working with neurosurgery and neurology patients.

“If you want to know a lot about the body, the brain is where everything begins. It’s how we function,” she says. “It’s incredibly rewarding to see a patient come to the unit who might not be able to talk or walk or feed themselves and watch them walk out of here. That really means a lot.”

Working on the neuroscience inpatient unit

Krueger loves that every day is different.

“Working here challenges me in a physical, mental, and emotional way,” she says. “Every day I learn something new.”

When Krueger first began on the unit more than nine years ago, she cared for a stroke patient who taught her that communicating with patients who have brain injuries takes compassion and intuition.

“It’s important to understand that communication is not just verbal, but also nonverbal as well,” she says.

Many hands make light work

On Krueger’s unit, all staff members row in the same direction. Teamwork is the name of the game.

“A call light will go off,” she says. “You might have three other patients and it might not be your patient’s room. But we all answer that call and put the patient first.”

Krueger appreciates all her co-workers and, as a former CNA, praises the work of the unit’s nursing assistants (NAs).

“I have never seen people work so hard,” she says. “Our NAs always see the goal.”

In all they say and do, the neuroscience team has the same goal: to help their patients heal and grow.

“We all have an understanding that our patients are here to get better, to get to as close to as before their injury as possible,” she says. “And it’s up to us. We take full advantage of every moment they’re with us to help and care for them.”