Spotlight on St. Joseph’s Hospital inpatient rehab nurse Justin Alonso

Justin Alonso, BSN, RN
St. Joseph’s Hospital Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit

Nursing for 15 months after graduating from Middle Georgia State

SJ/C: Why did you decide to become a nurse?

Justin: Originally, I was going to school to study business and IT. I was doing some computer and accounting classes. Honestly, I was bored. I knew I couldn’t sit behind a desk all day long. I played soccer throughout my life and in college. I am just someone who has to be on their feet; I’ve got to be actively doing something. And also, I just wanted to make people smile. That was really the biggest thing for me. I knew nursing was a good, stable job, but mainly, it’s just about making people smile.

SJ/C: Why did you choose St. Joseph’s/Candler?

Justin: I am from Warner Robins and was ready to leave home. I wanted to be independent, pay my own bills. I searched Savannah and the hospitals here and found St. Joseph’s/Candler. When I read about the core values and saw it is a faith-based health system, I liked what I saw and decided to apply. Luckily, they said yes.

SJ/C: What is your role as a nurse on the inpatient rehab and subacute unit?

Justin: We work as a team with occupational therapists and physical therapists. We help patients get dressed in the morning. Some patients, especially stroke patients, need total care. We do things like help them stay clean and get in and out of bed. We just work to get patients back to a normal life. I think that is the special part about rehab. I’ve had some patients where they weren’t walking at all to where they are walking up and down the hallways, doing laps. That progression is really nice to see. Many times when a patient first gets here, we will hear, ‘I don’t want to be here’ or ‘I can do this at my house,’ but once you get them to feel more at home, it’s all good to go. They are willing to do it. The biggest thing is to make them feel confident again.

SJ/C: What do you love most about your job?

Justin: Being able to make patients feel at home and make them smile. Occasionally I will sing or dance with them – anything I can do to liven their spirits. I encourage them to work hard, especially the ones that don’t want to be here, so that we can get them back home. I enjoy watching the progression patients make. You actually get to know the patient here. The typical time for patients to be on this floor is 10 to 14 days, and sometimes even longer and more extensive. It’s about building that trust, building a relationship with your patient, and again, smiling.

SJ/C: What does it mean to you to work for a five-time Magnet-designated health system, as well as being a part of shared governance?

Justin: It’s great. I think it’s much needed to have a hospital listen to its nurses because a lot of times, nurses don’t think they’re heard, but not here. For an organization like this to know that they care is the biggest thing.

SJ/C: What advice would you give to someone who is considering a career in nursing or who is about to become a nurse?

Justin: Really look into it. It’s a field where you are going to get every single emotion. You’re going to get the happy, the sad. You’re going to get angry sometimes. But ultimately, I always say play the cards you are dealt. Don’t try to change them. Deal with what you got and make the best of what you have. Most importantly, of course – like I’ve been saying this whole time – do it with a smile. Not just a physical smile, but do it inside your heart. Really smile in your heart and everything will work out well.

Family: Mother and father and two brothers
Hobbies/Interests: Playing soccer and other sports, hanging out with friends and finding a good series on Netflix

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