Ruth Shuler is a shining example of nursing leadership. After serving for 14 years as a rehabilitation nursing tech (RNT) at Walton Rehabilitation Hospital, an affiliate of Encompass Health, in Augusta, Georgia, Shuler embarked on a mission of professional development.
Eventually earning her Certified Registered Rehabilitation Nurse (CRRN) certification, Shuler’s impact now reaches far past her role as nurse manager—so much so that she was named as Encompass Health’s 2021 Outstanding Employee Achievement Award winner for its South Atlantic region.
A Passion for Patient Care
Shuler’s career in healthcare began by chance as she scrolled through job postings in the newspaper as a young woman, eager to find a way to support her growing family. Living in New York City at the time, she took a chance and applied for a job in home health. In that role, Shuler discovered her passion for patient care. When her career path led her to inpatient rehabilitation nursing, she knew she’d found her calling. Helping patients reach their goals is incredibly fulfilling to Shuler, and one memory in particular has always stuck with her.
“When my dad was a patient, the one thing he wanted to do was drink a cup of coffee,” she said. “So simple! We take that for granted; I drink a cup of coffee every day. But they helped him achieve that goal, and he enjoyed the cup of coffee. It brought him joy. I come to work every day with that goal in mind: to help my patients achieve that same joy.”
Purpose-Driven Professional Growth
Shuler’s path of professional growth led her to earn her Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) license, her Registered Nurse (RN) degree, and finally, her CRRN certification. At the root of Shuler’s professional ambition is her dedication to best serving patients.
“Ruth is a very purpose-driven individual, and I know from experience that her purpose, first and foremost, is to provide excellent care to the patients,” said Medical Director Pamela Salazar.
CEO Eric Crossan said Shuler’s commitment to elevating her professional knowledge has been an inspiration to her colleagues.
“It’s really amazing that Ruth began her career here as an RNT 21 years ago and has furthered her career along the way, setting an example to all of us of what commitment looks like,” Crossan said.
Going Above and Beyond
Shuler currently heads Walton’s STOP II (Stop Think Organize Position) committee, which is instrumental in ensuring that staff receive the proper training to prevent patient falls, and she acts as the hospital’s regional STOP II representative. She has even assisted with the training of nurse supervisors for new Encompass Health hospitals. Shuler is also an integral part of leader rounding for patient safety and recovery. When patients have concerns, she is quick to pull up a chair for a bedside chat to better understand the patient’s feelings and make an action plan to improve their stay.
“Ruth’s philosophy has always been to treat patients like family members,” said CNO Megan Clark. “She listens to their concerns, takes them seriously, makes sure she addresses them in a timely manner and keeps an open line of communication. She is very thorough, and you know you are in good hands when Ruth is taking care of you.”
Shuler is known for her positive attitude and calm demeanor, and colleagues say she is a consistent “go-to” in any circumstance or request. She is highly flexible in staffing whenever needed, whether in a leadership or bedside staffing role. She never says no and always has an attitude of genuine willingness to help where there is a need.
“Ruth’s spirit, demeanor, compassion and commitment to providing the highest level of care to her patients and peers make her a truly exceptional employee. We’re so lucky to have her at this company and at Walton,” Crossan said.