When Joy Brewer was a little girl, she recalls seeing a commercial about the Peace Corps and thinking that caring for others seemed like her kind of career. “When I went to college, I wanted to take dance,” says Joy, who is from the San Francisco Bay area of California. “A neighbor I babysat for told me that nurses were needed and that she thought I would make a great one. A light bulb lit up as I remembered my childhood dream. I went to the guidance counselor and told them I wanted to do nursing.” Joy graduated in 1984 from the College of San Mateo with an Associate Degree of Nursing, and started her career.
A connection to nursing
Although Joy did not have any influences in her family who led her to consider nursing, as a young adult, she began a journey to find her birth mother. “Just when I finished nursing school, I found out that my birth mother was also a nurse” she says. “Music and dance have always been a part of who I am, but it was amazing to learn that nursing is also something that has always been inside me.”
Building her experiences
Joy started out working in an urgent care facility and a pediatric office, then a community hospital. A move to San Diego led her to a position in a residential psychiatric treatment program. In 1992, she joined the University of California Davis Medical Center. She has been there ever since.
Her clinical experiences at UC Davis Medical have been varied: the surgical specialties unit, gynecology, oncology, ear nose throat, vascular and most recently, labor and delivery. “I have been on labor and delivery now for 23 years,” she says. “This has included, labor, newborn nursery, the operating room, recovery and triage. I love it. I love the close, one-on-one relationship with patients in the labor and delivery area.”
Following the trends of nursing
A few years ago, several of Joy’s colleagues at work started telling her about their educational pursuits at American Sentinel University. “It kind of sparked something in me,” she says. “I thought, ‘well, why can’t I do that? I need continuing education anyway. Why not earn a degree?’”
Joy started her research into BSN programs. With so many of her UC Davis Medical coworkers enrolled in the RN to BSN program at American Sentinel, Joy figured it would be a great fit for her too. “I realized that healthcare is moving this direction where nurses need bachelor’s degrees, and while I probably wouldn’t lose a job for not having the BSN, I might not be able to work in an area I’m interested in later on. I knew it would benefit me.” Joy enrolled in June 2018. She is planning to finish the program in 2021.
Many life passions
Nursing isn’t Joy’s only love. She is a longtime singer and songwriter who produces her own music videos as well. “Even while employed as a nurse I’ve kept working on my music,” she says. “It’s nice that I can do all of these things, plus go to college online and it is still manageable. The lyrics I write and the message I want my music to send is meant to inspire and uplift.” She is currently working on music related to the emotions she feels during the coronavirus crisis. “I write music to remember things and feel emotions, whether those are difficult or happy moments.”
A future of opportunities
When Joy graduates with the BSN in 2021, she says she hopes the degree will provide her opportunities to grow in the UC Davis system. “I love that I’ve been able to do so many different things there and I see this degree as a way to keep learning and growing,” she says.” Just because I’m 57 years old does not mean that I can’t write music or earn a BSN. This is what life is about. I’m excited about this feeling of accomplishment.”
Inspired by Joy’s story? A BSN is ideal for nurses who want to expand their knowledge base, become more marketable and enjoy greater career stability and mobility. Specialized knowledge forms the foundation of nursing and when you acquire new knowledge, you can apply it to nursing practice in ways that enhance patient care and improve outcomes.
Read the other student success stories for more inspiration.