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Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals

Tips for acing a rehabilitation nursing interview

May 07, 2021

Earning your diploma is a momentous occasion, signifying the start of the next chapter in your life. Your emotions may range from excitement to nerves to pride— all normal responses. As you prepare to transition from school into a full-time nursing position, Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals is offering tips to help you nail your job interview and jumpstart your career. Whether your dream is to be a bedside nurse, working closely with each patient, or you are looking to serve in a supervisory role, the opportunities in rehabilitation nursing are endless.

With 130 years of combined nursing experience, five of Madonna’s Directors of Nursing sat down to talk about what makes candidates stand out and the latitude rehabilitation nursing provides for new graduates.

Q: What is the interview process like? What should applicants expect?

“We like to start with making it relaxed, maybe talking a bit about what you’ve been doing, what your goals are, anything to get rid of some of the nerves applicants feel,” said Jackie Anderson, director of nursing for Madonna’s Specialty Hospital in Omaha.

“Applicants should expect at least two different people to ask them questions.  Even if they have been asked a similar question from one interview to another, they should know that the person they are talking to has not heard the answer,” said Jennifer Hoebelheinrich, director of nursing for Madonna’s Specialty Hospital in Lincoln.

“Expect to witness our core values in action,” said Jeff Kubik, director of nursing for Madonna’s Acute Rehabilitation Hospital in Lincoln. “The culture of Madonna is amazing. Everyone exudes the core values.  I have always thought of Madonna as my second family.” 

Q: What are qualities you look for in an applicant?

“Passion and love for serving others is key,” said Donna Haney, director of nursing for Madonna’s Long Term Care unit. “We recruit people to care for residents like they would their own family member!”

“Teamwork, positive attitude, and willingness to learn,” said Melissa Schmaderer, director of nursing for Madonna’s Acute Rehabilitation Hospital in Omaha.

“Kind, empathetic, caring,” Anderson said. “We can teach skills, we cannot change people to be kind and caring.”

Q: What’s one thing you wish all applicants knew?

“Interview for the job you are applying for. For example, if you are a nurse aide applying for an RN position, answer questions like an RN,” Kubik said. “Do your research. Know the facility, know the area, and ask questions to gain all the knowledge you need to make an informed decision if this is a place you want to work.”

“Give thought to your answers,” Anderson said. “It is ok to take a second to think about what you are going to say.  Coming with prepared answers tends to be a barrier to answering the question asked. Do not be afraid to sell your strengths and be ready to use examples.”

“Work-life balance is crucial to success in this field,” Schmaderer said. “Nursing is hard work, but really rewarding if you maintain that balance. With Madonna’s self-scheduling and no mandatory overtime, we make sure our employees have what they need to succeed, both personally and professionally.”

Q: What makes rehabilitation nursing at Madonna different?

 “We have the opportunity to build, maintain, and increase your clinical skill level in all areas of patient care need. Our unique blend of medical care, being able to treat high acuity patients, combined with expert rehabilitation techniques in our specialty hospital, cannot be experienced anywhere else in our community,” Anderson said.

“You get to see miracles happen almost daily. I remember a 17-year-old girl that I took care of. The family was told that they should take their daughter off life support and let her pass. This girl walked out of here on her own!” Haney said.

“The teams and the state-of-the-art equipment,” Hoebelheinrich said. “We are determined to find the best techniques for helping a patient succeed. That means everyone on staff has to be a dedicated, creative thinker with a passion for using technology to achieve the best outcomes.” 

“Not only do we get to know and develop great lifelong relationships with our patients and their families, but many of the employees that I worked with 18 years ago when I started my healthcare career here at Madonna are still employed by Madonna today!” Schmaderer said. 

Q: What kinds of opportunities does Madonna offer for advancement and furthering education?

“We have a nurse residency program for new nursing graduates, a preceptor program to help new hires learn and grow, tuition reimbursement opportunities, tons of education offerings that provide continuing education units, and many more opportunities for employees to not only learn more, but also grow their careers,” Schmaderer said.

“I personally started out as an LPN and now I am the director of nursing for Long-Term Care. I know there are countless stories like that from employees here at Madonna. We truly value our employees and their goals, both personally and professionally,” Haney said.

Madonna is actively hiring RNs and LPNs at both our Omaha and Lincoln Campus locations. To explore career opportunities at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals, visit www.madonna.org/nursing.


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