From traveling nurse to full-time staff member

One of the more mysterious parts of the body, the brain recovers at a pace unique to each person. It’s something familiar to nurse Chris Betts, RN, who works in the Neuroscience Intermediate Unit.

“One little baby step at a time is kind of how we take it,” Betts says.

The Joint Commission has recognized the unit in four different categories for its high level of care for patients recovering from a stroke.

Impressed by the unit’s work, Betts took on the job at UI Hospitals & Clinics after working six months as a traveling nurse with the unit. The organization and management of the unit appealed to him enough that he decided to come onboard full-time.

Knowledge is power

On the floor, Betts is known for his sense of humor, sometimes laughing with patients in a respectful way. His compassionate care and knowledge is what prompted a patient to nominate Betts for a DAISY Award, which he won.

“It was such a busy floor, but he always made us feel important,” his nominator writes. “His knowledge of his field is impressive.”

Knowing enough information to share it confidently with others is exactly how Betts imagined his career would be.

“My big goal ever since day one of being a nurse has been to educate people with what’s going on with their health and empower them to take charge of their care,” Betts says.

His passion for nursing stems from his mother, who was also a nurse. He remembers her battle with cancer when he was younger and talks about it as one of the reasons he considers himself an empathetic person.

“I’ve always thought that if I can educate patients and let them know I’m guiding them through their recovery, it’s going to make it a bit easier,” Betts says.

From traveling nurse to full-time

Because of the severity of the patient’s ailments, the neuroscience unit can be a challenging place to work. Betts says he’s found success on the floor thanks to a team he calls “incredible.” It was the work ethic of the team and the unit leadership that sealed his decision to stay with UI Health Care after a stint as a traveling nurse.

“They’re probably the most phenomenal people I’ve ever worked with,” Betts says.

Since the move, he’s found a place where he can expand his career and further develop his skills for compassionate care. It sounds cliché but Betts thinks laughter and levity can sometimes be the best medicine.

“It can help patients be able to cope with what’s going on,” he says.

Some of the best moments for Betts are when he gets to see the fruits of his labor. He remembers seeing a the “spectacular” recovery of a patient who had been in a traumatic motor vehicle accident.

“To know I had a part in helping that person recover…,” Betts says. “That’s why I’m in this business.”