Eastern Mennonite University Nursing featured 25 alumni, students, and faculty on their Facebook page for National Nurses Month this May. Nurses shared a diverse array of experiences, stories, and even advice for their fellow nurses.
Throughout the month, EMU Nursing held several workshops, shared stories of prominent nurses throughout history, and posted videos for and about nurses.
Also in May, EMU’s online RN to BSN program was recognized as the best in the state for 2022 by RegisteredNursing.org, a nursing advocacy organization.
To view the entire series, visit the EMU Nursing Facebook page.
Beth Good ’03
MSN Program Director
“Before my husband and I began working internationally, I decided to prepare myself by taking an EMT training. It was during that training that I realized caring for people’s health was something that brought me fulfillment and I set my mind toward becoming a nurse. It took several years and the encouragement of a dear friend while living in Kenya until I was able to begin moving toward this goal. After completing an associate’s degree and licensure as an LPN, I was able to complete my undergraduate work at EMU. The timing was perfect since I knew that at least one or two of my daughters were nipping at my heels to begin their own journey into nursing.”
Rebekah Good Charles ’07
Administrative role as a Mennonite Central Committee country representative
“I remember trying to decide what I wanted to study when I visited the EMU nursing department, where my mom was finishing her BSN at the time. I loved the holistic approach and the variety of ways this one vocation took form in different individuals.
Having family members who are nurses is a special treat. We can share experiences from our different nursing roles and have a certain level of understanding. We have a shared pride in our profession that is fun to talk about or share with others around us. I also love that each one of us has done nursing in a slightly different way.
I have been a public health nurse more of my career. Right now, I am finishing an administrative role as a Mennonite Central Committee country representative with my husband Derrick. It is not a traditional nursing role but has used all the skills I learned in school. I am looking forward to getting back into a more traditional nursing role- but still community based soon.”
Naomi Good ’15
Certified Nurse Midwife
“It took me a while to find my niche in nursing, I started out as an ICU nurse and quickly realized that was not the path for me. I even contemplated leaving the nursing field. I then switched to labor and delivery where I found my love for women’s health and the birthing process. I furthered my education and recently became a Certified Nurse Midwife, which is my dream job! I love working with women and partnering with them as their provider in their health and in their pregnancy and birth. It is a very sacred thing to be a part of someone’s birth and just watch the amazing things that our bodies can accomplish.”
Johnathan Barni ‘22
Emergency Department nurse at Sentara RMH hospital
“My desire to help people started at a young age. I played ice hockey and was an action sports enthusiast starting when I was in first grade, and as one might imagine, this led to frequent visits to receive care for injuries. All of those experiences were overwhelmingly positive as I interacted with great care teams, which captivated me and led to my desire to be able to do the same for others. It has been a lifelong journey to get to nursing school, but one I am very proud of. After finishing my first bachelor’s degree at James Madison University in healthcare administration with a minor in business, I worked on the quality improvement side of the field before returning to school to join the Eastern Mennonite University nursing program. It is here that I feel I have found my true calling and my home. This program has challenged me beyond measure and given me many skills to carry into a future career. In the fall, I will be starting as an emergency department nurse in our local Sentara RMH hospital. There, I look forward to a lifelong commitment to bettering the health of my patients and being a part of a wonderful team that expands the field and strives for excellence.”
Ellie Butsch ‘11
Nurse at Salem Hospital in Salem, Oregon
“My husband and I are enjoying being first-time parents to our five-month old baby, Isabel. I work at Salem Hospital in Salem, Oregon. I have been there ten years but just started in a new department (Prep and Recovery) in order to have more time at home with my baby.”
“My husband and I are enjoying being first-time parents to our five-month old baby, Isabel. I work at Salem Hospital in Salem, Oregon. I have been there ten years but just started in a new department (Prep and Recovery) in order to have more time at home with my baby.
Nadene (Brunk) Eads, MSN ‘75, CNM
Retired executive director of Midwives For Haiti
“The wonderful thing about a nursing degree is that the choice of jobs is wide. If you get tired or disillusioned with one type of job, you can go a different direction without starting your education over. From patient care to a desk job, from hospital to home health, from public health to service in a different country — there are so many opportunities if you are willing to stretch yourself and grow. I have had employment as a med-surg nurse, a home-health care nurse, an OB-Gyn nurse-practitioner and nurse-midwife. I spent the last five years of my career running a non-profit, Midwives For Haiti, educating Haitian nurses in midwifery skills. EMU provided both the education and the passion for service necessary for all of my choices of jobs.”
Addison Hawpe ‘22
Pediatric Acute Care RN at UVA Children’s Hospital
“Imagine this – you are six years old, your mom is at the hospital delivering your baby brother and you are at your aunt’s house, beyond ecstatic to meet your new sibling. Sweet, right? Now, imagine this – your aunt gets a phone call from the hospital saying your brother was being transported to the University of Virginia’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, NICU, for short. You see your aunt start crying, but you are not sure why. And, four days later, your mom returns home without baby brother, telling you he was born with a hole in his lung and is now at the hospital. You are put in the car and driven half an hour away to visit your baby brother, who you see is stuck in this box with wires and tubes poking out from every angle. The only love you can give him is a tiny touch through two holes in this heated box. People in funny looking outfits touch him, pick him up and care for him with such finesse. They know he isn’t as fragile as he appears. This was my life 15 years ago; a 6-year-old little girl who had her first real experience with the medical field. Looking back now, I realize just how much of an impact this moment had on me and am surprised by how much I truly remember. My most vivid memory of visiting my brother in the hospital consists of me, navigating through what seemed like a never ending maze of incubators, all housing the most sickly and frail looking babies I had ever seen. Finally, at the end of the maze tucked in a back corner was my little brother’s boxy home. I saw one of these funny clothed people, who I now know were nurses, giving him what looked like water through one of the many tubes he had. She rolled his little body over and swaddled him back up. I remember thinking, isn’t she going to hurt him? He is so tiny! But, I also remember thinking, wow, she is SO cool. I want to be like her one day. It was from this moment on that I knew that I wanted to be a nurse.”
Sophie Hodge ‘22
Surgical-Trauma ICU nurse at UVA
“Ever since I was a little girl I knew I wanted to work in the medical field. My mother has worked in radiology for over 30 years and seeing her provide patient care is what inspired me to pursue health care. It wasn’t until my Freshman year of high school that I really started considering nursing. My grandfather, whom I was very close to, had a stroke in 2013 and was diagnosed with lymphoma shortly after. Seeing the hospice nurses care for him sparked my interest in nursing. I was able to do a mentorship at Sentara RMH my senior of high school on the Medical-Surgical Oncology and Palliative Care floor and that’s when I fell in love with nursing. I got my EMR when I was 16 and started volunteering at Staunton-Augusta Rescue Squad and then in 2019 I got my EMT. I started working as an Emergency Department technician in 2020 at Sentara RMH and have loved my time there. I will be working at UVA in the Surgical-Trauma ICU. And plan to pursue flight nursing after that.”
Melissa Jantzi ‘16
Nurse at Christ House in Washington, DC
“One of my fantastic EMU nursing professors first introduced me to Christ House, a medical respite facility for men experiencing homelessness in Washington D.C. I’ve been working at this amazing place for almost 5 years now. I love being a part of reconnecting patients to care who have sometimes been lost for many years. We provide primary care and also connect patients with specialists, addictions services, psych, and spiritual care. Also, we are currently searching for a new night nurse!”
Rebekah Lehman ‘02
Home health nurse at Carefree Home Health & Companions in Harrisonburg
“I started out my career at Shenandoah Memorial Hospital in Obstetrics. Smaller community hospitals, as this was, have their benefits as well as disadvantages, especially when it comes to change. From there I moved on to Med/Surg at Sentara RMH, sparing the details, this was not for me. Feeling a little lost at the time, I shifted from hospital bedside nursing into home health at Carefree Home Health & Companions, which as it turned out was nothing like what I had experienced during nursing school. This job is specially working with special needs individuals, which I have now loved doing for 9 years! For a few years, I also supplemented this job with a part-time nursing job at a pediatrics doctors office. So, while I initially thought, why me, my career has not been ground-breaking or heroic, I do know the significance I am and the difference I make to the individuals & families I care for. That is why I do what I do. My nursing career has not been anything like what I envisioned while in nursing school, and that’s okay. Life in general doesn’t always go the way we thought it would. Just have faith, and an open mind, the possibilities are endless.”
Miriam Mitchell, MSN ‘19, MPH, RN
Senior Advisor at the Ministry of Health in New Zealand
For the last two years Miriam has been working at The Ministry of Health in New Zealand. Her role includes advising the Minister (Secretary) of Health, on matters related to government health policy and strategy.
“The New Zealand national health system is currently going through a major reform. I love being able to use the skills I gained from my MSN course work in risk, safety, quality improvement, and systems thinking, to contribute to achieving health equity for all New Zealanders. Thanks EMU Nursing!”
Abby Oyer ‘15
“For my first two years as a nurse I worked at Sentara RMH on the progressive care unit. I was surrounded by caring, supportive nurses who taught me many valuable lessons. However, EMU nursing gave me the fundamentals and pushed me to become the nurse I am today. Experiencing Covid-19 as a nurse was a challenging time that I couldn’t have done without Joy Kiser (EMU grad in picture 2). Working together as a team helped the long shifts be more bearable. In August 2021 I decided to try travel nursing. I was pushed out of my comfort zone but have grown even more as a nurse. I am more confident in my nursing skills and learned to ask for help. At a new facility with different protocols, this was key. When it comes to nursing, I have always asked questions when I needed clarification. Travel nursing taught me how important this is as a nurse. I am so happy I decided to try travel nursing as it led to a flexible schedule and meeting amazing nurses. I’ve learned that it is okay to not know exactly what I want to do in nursing. I am unsure what I want to do next but I know that I have a passion for helping my patients wherever they may be.”
Faculty (current and former)
Beryl Brubaker PhD
Dr. Brubaker started her long EMU career in the nursing department, which she chaired for 10 years. Recognized for her administrative ability, she was appointed vice president for enrollment management in 1994 and then provost, EMU’s second-highest post, 2000-2008. She also served briefly as interim president. At the time of retirement, she was awarded the Administrative Emeriti title.
“I loved teaching and administration in the Nursing Department and later in the university as a whole. I found I enjoyed mentoring students and persons who reported to me as an administrator. One of the satisfactions in such a career is having persons return to tell you how much that meant to them and helped them move into their careers.”
Deb Cardenas, DNP, MSN, BSN
Nursing faculty, president of the Pennsylvania State Nurses Association
“Nursing has been my passion ever since I was a little girl. There was never anything else. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to use my nursing knowledge in many settings. Risk Management and Safety are at the top of my list. Providing education and advice to nurses on practicing safely, discussing the legal process and working with attorneys to support nurses is something I enjoy. Another avenue where I utilize my nursing knowledge is as the president of the Pennsylvania State Nurses Association (PSNA). I have had the honor of being the President since June 2021. In this position, I have enjoyed meeting and talking with nurses from across the state about their concerns, their priorities, and their nursing stories. I would like to wish you Happy Nurses Week! YOU make a difference! Patients, families and communities see what you do, how you do it and they are grateful. Thank you for everything you do! You are amazing!”
Bethany Detamore, MSN
“Nursing is a career in which one can do just about anything. This is something I truly love about the profession. I graduated with my BSN in 2016 and have taken on many different roles in the last 6 years as an RN. As a new grad, I started on a cardiothoracic surgery unit doing bedside nursing for two years, then transitioned into case management at an outpatient wound clinic. Once I completed my MSN degree in 2019, I began teaching. I have worked everything from weekend twelve hour night shifts to Monday through Friday, no weekends or holidays. Although, grading sneaks into my weekends occasionally. Throughout the different seasons of this profession and all the roles I have had the pleasure to fill, I can confidently say a career in nursing has something for almost everyone. If twelve hours shifts aren’t a good fit for you, seek out other types of shifts. If bedside nursing isn’t something you think you can do for thirty-plus years, seek out other opportunities! I would have never known how much I loved wound care if I hadn’t been asked to join a wound care quality improvement team. My encouragement for any nurse, both new and seasoned, is to find your niche. Find where you are able to use your God given talents, skills, and intuitions to the best of your ability, and don’t be afraid to take chances or seek opportunities to grow. There may just be a more fulfilling, joy filled future in it for you and those around you.”
Jennifer Norton, MSN ‘16, RN, CSN
Nursing Informaticist with PSNI, Inc.
“My nursing journey has followed anything but a straight path. This is the beauty and gift of my chosen profession of nursing. As a new graduate with stars in her eyes, I couldn’t wait to get started. And there were no jobs for nurses that year. And my state licensing office burned to the ground, so no graduate licenses. These closed doors opened windows to nursing roles I never would have otherwise experienced. After working for a visiting nurse agency, I spent several years soaking up everything I could in the fast paced world of ER and Trauma. Then came a jump to Hospice and Palliative Care, followed years later by an extraordinary 15-year career as a Certified School Nurse. Even more surprising, after proclaiming that I ‘was done’ with school, I completed my MSN at EMU just as my own children were graduating from high school! These days, I support School Nurses all over the world as a Nursing Informaticist with PSNI, Inc. (SNAP Software). Even though I couldn’t always see around the corner of my path in Nursing, and never would have imagined THIS journey, I am so very grateful for all of the bends and turns that formed me into the nurse I am today.”
Ann Schaeffer, DNP, CNM, M.Ed, CNE, FACNM
“I am a 2nd degree nurse, returning to school over the years for my BSN, MSN, and eventually my DNP. It’s hard to think of a profession that offers the flexibility and opportunities found in nursing. I am passionate about midwifery, public health, and education. Nursing has allowed me to explore all of those, and my nine years as faculty at EMU is where I truly learned to apply the care and support of clinical nursing to the education and mentoring of future nurses. Nursing has evolved with me as a professional, has never been boring, and has allowed me the great privilege of being present with clients and students along the way. It’s truly a profession unlike any other!”
Priscilla Simmons, EdD, MSN, RN
Professor Emerita of Nursing at EMU
“You know EMU’s underlying philosophy of nursing as a sacred covenant into which nurses stand on holy ground with patients? Well, it goes for teachers too. I have often committed myself to entering into a sacred covenant with my students and more than once, I have stood with them on holy ground as they entrusted me to guide their education.”
Dr. Arlene Wiens, MSN, PhD
Professor Emeritus of Nursing at EMU
Arlene Wiens was named the chair of the EMU Nursing Department in the late 1990s. She served as chairperson until June 2011 when she retired. Arlene was instrumental in expanded nursing program enrollment, the addition of the RN to BS and MSN programs, and the beginning use of simulation in nursing education.
Her wisdom for nursing students, new nurses, and experienced nurses includes:
• There is a lot to learn, but nurses do not need to know it all at the beginning. There is always room for growth.
• As a new graduate, it is important to find a mentor or partner in nursing who can mentor one through the tough first few years.
• Stay engaged with your patients, learn their stories.
Brooke Detwiler, BSN student
“When I was younger, I was diagnosed with Dysautanomia POTs shortly after an allergic reaction to general anesthesia, when started the onset of my symptoms. Being a young girl wanting to play sports and be active, it made it extremely difficult to keep up with everyone else, which lead me to having to give up that part of my life. Medications have helped with some of the symptoms including tachycardia, but I continue to experience daily blood pulling which makes standing for long periods of time pretty miserable.
Being in and out of cardiac care, I have interacted with a variety of nurses. I have always admired their ability to show up and selflessly put others first. I hope that I can be that nurse who can make even some of the hardest times, not so hard. Overall, I want to prove that no matter the challenges in life, if you set your mind to something, you can achieve it!”
Tammy Johnson, MSN student
“I have worked in many different nursing settings as a travel nurse, USAF nurse, a volunteer with the American Red Cross, and assisting a missionary nurse one summer while in college. I currently work as the Sentara RMH Medical Center’s Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Program Coordinator. As a SANE, I have the opportunity to provide patient-centered care to victims in an acute traumatic crisis. With the specialized training we receive, we have more autonomy than many nurses and get to spend as much one-on-one time with our patients as they need. It is this relationship built on empowerment, choices, collaboration, safety, and trustworthiness that makes it easy for our patients to disclose more to us than anyone else. SANEs fall under the umbrella of Forensic Nurse Examiner (FNE), which means we do much more than sexual assault exams, evidence collection, and testifying in court. FNEs may also be involved in exams involving non-fatal strangulation, intimate partner violence, domestic violence, elder and child abuse, assaults, gunshot wounds, death investigations, and more. The great thing about being a nurse is that you can work in different areas until you find the perfect fit for you.”
Brad Mullet, BSN student
“I will go on to work on a psych ward to live out my passion to emotionally, mentally, and spiritually help people who need it the most. Be it suicidal ideation, schizophrenia, bipolar, or substance abuse, patients with these symptoms are crying out for help when they are at their lowest moments in life. Having been through a lot in my own mental health journey, I want to empathize, help, and listen to the stories of these patients who have been through so much darkness.
The need for emotional and mental healing is so great (especially when combined with a physical illness), that I believe there should be a standardized system to prepare nurses to respond to the emotional, mental, and spiritual states of the patients. Just like standard precautions for blood, disease, and hygiene, nurses should adhere to emotional precautions. A standardized system of knowing how to react, empathize, and expect emotions is just as important, if not more, than knowing what PPE to don. Let’s put on those N95’s and gowns as well as shields of love, armor of justice, and helmets of grace.”
Kelly Stephenson, DNP student
“As a current nurse educator, I have navigated these past two unprecedented years alongside my nursing students in addition to providing emergency care to patients in our local emergency department.
One of the most important skills that nursing students have acquired over the past two years is perseverance. As a nurse educator and nursing student in a doctorate program, I have also maintained my strength to continue on and reach my own professional goals.
It doesn’t take long for nursing students to realize that nurses are family. Their faculty members, their peers, their clinical instructors, and their fellow nurses in local healthcare facilities all play a vital role in student nurse success. I am ecstatic to see individuals choose the nursing profession and to have the opportunity to be a part of helping them become part of the nursing family within our local community.”