UAB Medicine News


Spotlight on Unit for Neurosciences Nursing

Each month we focus on a UAB Medicine nursing unit to offer an understanding of each unit’s purpose and to recognize the dedication and good work of our care teams. This month we spoke with Nurse Manager James Hammock of the Unit of Neuro Science Nursing (UNSN), which specializes in caring for patients who have undergone intracranial or spinal surgery.

Name: Unit for Neuro Science Nursing (UNSN)
Nurse Manager: Jamey Hammock
4 Assistant Nurse Managers, 20 RNs, 10 PCTs, 5 USs
Nurse/Patient Ratio 1:5
Number of beds: 20
Patient population: Neurosurgical and Orthopaedic spine surgery

Tell us about the purpose of your unit.

We are 20-bed acute care neurosurgical Floor providing excellent care to intracranial and spinal surgery patients. UNSN has been in existence since UAB opened its Neurosurgery program. We were originally on Jefferson Towers 15 East with 24 beds in 1990. It was renamed Unit of Neuro Science Nursing in 2004, and in 2012 we moved across the North Pavilion. Average LOS is under 3 days.

How would you describe the unique features of this unit?

One thing that sets UNSN apart is the years of service for employees. Over 50 percent of the nurses have been here 10 or more years. One ANM on days has been here 26 years, one RN on PMs has 27 years of service, another dayshift nurse has 24 years of service. Our educator has been here 19 years. I don’t see many units in the organization that still have this amount of longevity. 

What is the orientation process for UNSN? 

There is a six- week nursing orientation, including nurse residency. We try to send new RN’s to the OR to observe an intracranial and a spinal case. We believe that this provides the nurse more empathy and a better understanding of the patients’ post –op needs.

How does your team demonstrate our Core Values?

I believe that our core values are proven through our outcomes and by our staff.  Every patient is a testament to our success.

What do you find most rewarding about managing this unit?

The people here.  I’m new to management, and I really don’t believe that I have walked into a better place. The staff is wonderful; most of them have been here for more than 10 years, so there is a wealth of knowledge and experience to draw from. They are all professional, caring, and most of all they understand—and truly believe—that we are here for our patients, not for ourselves. The working relationship between the MDs and our staff is also unique. All of the MDs know the staff by first name and seek out their input. It’s a family atmosphere among case management / social workers, nursing staff, and the physicians, because we all support each other both professionally and personally. In my 27 years of nursing I’ve never been a part of, or even encountered, anything quite like this.