Diana Bean knows it’s hard for people to understand why she loves being a neuroscience nurse. “It just makes me feel good that I can provide that kind of care for someone,” she explains.
As a neuroscience nurse at Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital for the past nine years, Diana has been helping people navigate the difficult road to recovery following brain or spinal cord injury with a compassion that stems from a deep understanding of what it’s like to be on the other side of the care. Her mother, who was also a nurse, was diagnosed with cancer when Diana was just a child. Diana remembers the tremendous support the nurses provided throughout her mother’s illness, saying, “It’s a personal thing for me. Modern medicine and technology is just miraculous and I want to be a part of it and give back.”
Being a neuroscience nurse is both difficult and rewarding, something Diana knows all too well. “It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I love working with these patients and at the same time you’re faced with your own mortality,” she says. Most people are in the unit for a long time, recovering from strokes and injuries, or receiving treatment for a brain tumor, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy or other conditions involving the brain or spine. “It takes a very strong person to be able to care for these types of patients, but that’s what neuroscience nursing is all about—the care and compassion,” says Diana.
The neuroscience nurses at IU Health Methodist Hospital operate as a family, supporting one another through difficult and joyful times with patients, and teaching the newest members of their team through hands-on experience. “We are a very close family and we do everything we can to help each other out,” says Diana. “We see many good outcomes and patients who have touched our lives in one way or another. The strength of our patients is amazing. They’re so brave, and it’s what makes our job worthwhile.”
Diana’s favorite part of her job is being an advocate for her patients and helping them reach rehabilitation milestones. For example, helping a person who suffered a stroke—and was unable to speak or move—get to a point where they can walk and talk again. She enjoys working with her patients over time, getting to know them and their families, struggling with them and, ultimately, seeing them get better. “I feel the frustration with them and it’s very rewarding to see them go home,” she says.
It helps to work for one of the top neuroscience programs in the nation. At At IU Health Neuroscience, nurses and other staff receive ample continuing education. “The neuroscience program at IU Health provides a wonderful environment of learning and continuous professional growth,” says Diana. “Every time I walk through the door, I learn something new. For physicians, nurses and patients, it’s just a great environment.”