When Brooke Byrne was a senior healthcare administration and exercise physiology major at Grand Valley State University, she was diagnosed with an auto-immune disorder. “I wound up in the hospital very sick,” says Brooke. Prior to that, she had been contemplating her future, unsure exactly what she would do with her degree after graduation. While she recovered and adjusted to her “new normal”, Brooke came to a career epiphany of sorts—and ultimately, to nursing.
Back to school
Brooke graduated from Grand Valley State in 2003 and started nursing school at Lake Michigan College one week later. “I realized I wanted to be that person for someone,” she says. “I want to develop relationships with patients and help them through a time in their life that might be difficult or scary.” Two years later, Brooke became a Registered Nurse.
In 2005, Brooke accepted a position in the inpatient oncology unit at Spectrum Health, a nonprofit health system in Western Michigan. “Oncology patients are the coolest patients you’ll ever meet,” she says. “They have every reason to be upset, but they’re the first ones to ask about you. I absolutely love working with them.”
When Brooke and her husband decided to start a family, she began to think about going back to school for an MSN. During her maternity leave with her second son, she attended an education day hosted by Spectrum, and learned about American Sentinel University, where several of her coworkers were also students. “I’m an extremely motivated person, and knew that online learning fit my personality well,” Brooke says. While raising a newborn and a toddler, she returned to work and started the RN to MSN in 2013.
The perfect job for Brooke
Cancer and Hematology Centers of Western Michigan is the largest oncology and hematology practice in Michigan, with four main clinical sites and several regional clinical sites. Brooke manages one of the clinics, and two days a week she sees patients. “I love that I still get to work with the patients I love, but am also in a challenging new position,” she says.
One year into the job, she’s learning and growing—but never one to idle for too long, Brooke’s latest endeavor has nothing at all to do with healthcare. She and her husband recently purchased a 36-acre blueberry farm about 30 minutes from their home. Growing up, her family owned a fruit processing and cold storage company, so the industry isn’t completely unfamiliar. “It’s our first year harvesting and we’re excited for our boys to grow up with this as a part of their lives,” she says. “We have a crazy life, but we love it.”
More education in the future
Eventually, Brooke wants to return to college once again to become a Nurse Practitioner. For now, however, she’s eager to focus on her new job, the blueberry farming business and her family. “I’m excited to put my education to work,” she says. “It will be great to get back to my life, knowing that I’ve achieved this major goal.”
Inspired by Brooke’s story? An MSN program can be your passport to a specialty nursing field, like nursing management and organizational leadership, nursing education, informatics, or infection control. Specialized knowledge forms the foundation of these nursing fields. When you acquire new knowledge, you can apply it to nursing practice in ways that enhance patient care and improve outcomes.