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Rehabilitation nursing offers challenges and rewards at any career stage
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Rehabilitation nursing offers challenges and rewards at any career stage

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Patients remain at Madonna longer than in acute care settings, giving staff an opportunity to build strong relationships.

Across two hospital campuses and multiple outpatient clinics in Omaha and Lincoln, Madonna has become synonymous with hope and healing throughout the country.

At the heart of the rehabilitation hospital’s mission is a commitment to caring for the whole person, often driven by a team of outstanding nurses.

Jody Luzum, LPN, has seen the hospital grow from a Lincoln campus serving mostly those in the local community to a second campus in Omaha that has helped transform Madonna into a national destination for rehabilitation after stroke, spinal cord or brain injury and pediatric rehabilitation.

Luzum started her nursing career at Madonna when she was 18 years old, working as a nursing assistant. Over the years, she has worked as a stroke unit secretary, float LPN and held roles in Adult Day Services and now Employee Health Services.

Even after 40 years at Madonna, the arrival of COVID-19 in our community provided a new challenge for Luzum to conquer. Keeping employees safe, reducing the risk of exposure for patients and staff and coordinating the administration of vaccinations were a tall order, but key to the hospital’s success in navigating the pandemic.

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Jody Luzum, LPN, has seen Madonna grow from a Lincoln campus serving mostly those in the local community to a second campus in Omaha and a destination for rehabilitation nationwide.

Looking back on her decades-long career, Luzum said she’s stayed at Madonna so long because of the people. It’s allowed her to meet individuals from all walks of life and from around the world, developing lifelong relationships in the process.

“I always tell new hires that longevity speaks well of any company but especially in healthcare,” Luzum said. “If you are treated well, that speaks volumes about a place.”

Michaela Aulner, a nurse aide, follows in the footsteps of career professionals like Jody.

Raised in Orange City, Iowa, she graduated with the intention of enrolling in medical school when she felt a call to nursing. She began working as a nursing assistant at Madonna Rehabilitation Specialty Hospital in Lincoln and is now pursuing an accelerated Bachelor of Science in nursing degree at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. She scaled back her work at Madonna to accommodate her studies but plans to return full time as an RN upon graduation.

Aulner said she’s looking forward to being part of hundreds of other patient journeys as she continues to grow in her nursing career. She said she is grateful to be surrounded by role models who exemplify Madonna’s core values every single day.

Despite being at different stages in their careers, Luzum and Aulner share a commitment to Madonna’s deep sense of purpose, rooted in faith and the hope inspired by patients and their families.

Patients remain at Madonna longer than in acute care settings, giving staff an opportunity to build strong relationships. Nursing staff also provide crucial caregiver education and training to make sure loved ones feel confident in providing for the needs of the patient long after discharge.

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