New Nurses at Nebraska Medicine


December 4th, 2020

The University of Nebraska Medical Center was founded in 1881, as Omaha Medical College. The college became affiliated with the University in 1902. (Photo by Ryan Robertson, KVNO News)

OMAHA – In times of a pandemic two nurse managers at Nebraska Medicine attempt to fill high-demand workspaces. Lack of workforce and all the extra work continues to generate demand for help.

The West-five unit is where patients with Covid-19 are being treated at Nebraska Medicine. Brandi Johansen, nursing manager for west-five, works with almost all patients with COVID, except those in the ICU and pediatrics.

With COVID, it chooses who it wants to take. It can be someone with diabetes and hypertension and they will come to our unit with COVID. So really it is a wide variety of patients and populations that you will take care of, Johansen, said.

Johansen has worked as a nurse and nursing manager for over 14 years, and she is in charge of hiring different personnel to work at west five. Even after her long career in the medical field, she is learning new information while working with COVID patients.

As she is trying to recruit new staff, she thinks that right now is an opportunity for new nurses to see all the job options this career has.  

We love bringing on new nurses and then maybe they find out they really want to go to ER or they want to go to ICU, we want to build them into an awesome nurse, Johansen said.

Under her management, Johansen is looking for nurses and caretakers at this time. Nurses, after two years in one position, can then explore different units.

Michelle Collins is a Nursing Professional Development Specialist who also works at the west five units. One of her roles is to help and guide new nurses. She praises the way new nurses are handling their new jobs as far as working with COVID patients.

These nurses are so thankful to be on five west, and when they were told they were going to become a COVID unit, three days later we were COVID unit and I will tell you, they did not shy away from the challenge, Collins, said.

Collins says her COVID nurses had been more than nurses to COVID patients. They take the time to show support and care for them because no family can be around.

These two health workers who intend to hire more personnel during this pandemic understand that it is a difficult time for this career and that it takes extra special people to do it.

The biggest challenge we have is obviously the PPE, the Personal Protective Equipment that the staff has to wear to take care of these COVID patients, Collins, said.

Johansen and Collins know that going into the nursing field is not an easy task but they are providing the right tools and help to ensure new nurses succeed in their new careers.

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