#TheMindBehind Neuro-Telemetry: Brenda Lopez

Brenda Lopez has spent most of her eight years as a nurse working in emergency rooms. She never expected to leave the ER for a neuroscience unit—until her son was diagnosed with autism three and a half years ago.

“That really changed my path as a nurse,” said Brenda, now a mother of three. “I wanted to be able to work in neuro so that I could help that population and provide the quality of care that was provided to my son when he went through all of his therapies.”

In May 2020, she joined Barrow Neurological Institute as clinical supervisor of the 5NNB Neuro-Telemetry Unit. About two months later, she assumed the role of clinical nurse manager of the unit.

“The way I look at it, I’m kind of like the CEO of this unit,” she said. “I’m responsible for the whole function of the unit and all daily activities.”

That includes hiring and managing staff, budgeting, reviewing quality metrics to optimize patient outcomes, and rounding on patients.

Nursing Journey: From Childhood Dreams to Managing a Unit

Although Brenda only recently became drawn to the neurosciences, she began dreaming of a career in health care when she was just 5 years old—even though none of her family members worked in the field.

The real catalyst for her nursing pursuit was being diagnosed with a tumor in her femur at the age of 18. Brenda had two extensive surgeries to remove the tumor, which three different pathology labs around the country evaluated due to its rarity. Thankfully, it was benign.

“The care that was provided to me by the nurses is really what pushed me to continue on and become a nurse myself,” she recalled.

In 2013, Brenda earned her Associate of Science in Nursing from Victor Valley Community College in Southern California, near her hometown of Apple Valley. She accepted her first nursing job in the emergency room at Victor Valley Global Medicine Center.

Brenda moved to Arizona in 2015, where she continued to work in emergency rooms. She also spent about nine months as a float/SWAT nurse, assisting on various other units such as intensive-care, med/surg, and telemetry.

Brenda gained management experience at Dignity Health’s Arizona General Hospital, where she served as facility administrator of the Glendale Emergency Room.

She has continued her education while working, earning her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Kaplan University—now called Purdue University Global. She is currently finishing a dual master’s program in business administration and nursing leadership at Grand Canyon University.

Defining Success on the Neuro-Telemetry Unit

Brenda said she is proud to be part of Barrow because “we do things that no one else does.”

She recalled a recent teenage patient on her unit who traveled to Barrow from Romania to undergo surgery for a complex spinal arteriovenous malformation (AVM).

“We get to be part of those journeys—to be the ones who say ‘yes’ to a patient when they’ve heard ‘no’ so many times,” Brenda said.

Consistently providing this level of care on the neuro-telemetry unit is what Brenda hopes to accomplish in her managerial role.

“Truly, I want to be able to provide the exceptional care I know we can and that was provided to my son,” she said. “That’s what I strive for every single day, with every single patient.”