Spotlight on Andrea Brown
How did you get started in the nursing profession?
Nursing is my second career. I was a dental assistant for 10 years before I went back to school for nursing. I also worked for three years as a nursing assistant before I graduated nursing school. Before I became a nurse, I recognized the need for educating patients about their health and medications when they’d come in for their dental appointments. Most of the patients we’d see in the office didn’t know why they took the medications they did and didn’t know about a lot of their underlying health conditions.
What do you love about your position? What has kept you passionate about your career?
I love being able to take care of critical patients. It’s a rewarding feeling to wean vent settings, oxygen, and pressors and see them get better because of your care. This job can be stressful, and we don’t always have good outcomes, but I’ve found that majority of families I have worked with over the years are appreciative of the nurse’s hard work and efforts despite the outcome of their loved ones. As far as passion goes, I still try to constantly learn new things. In the past, I have always volunteered to be a super user for new equipment, trials, and techniques for things we can use in the ICU and throughout the hospital. I am still growing and practicing new (and relearning old) skills every day.
I have oriented many students and new nurses over the years and love to see them grow. I was also one of the primary charge nurses at my staff job for many years. I spent a lot of time mentoring and being a resource for new nurses. I love to be able to bounce ideas off of my peers and discuss difficult cases and different ways we can approach treatments/therapies for positive patient outcomes. The hospital that I “grew up in” didn’t have a ton of resources on night shift, and I had to be resourceful and think on my feet. I definitely think it made me a better nurse because of it.
How did you find HPC? How has HPC helped with your career?
I stumbled upon HPC through the Highway Hypodermics website. I was looking for an agency that had great benefits, and they were listed in the top 10 on the HH website for agencies with great benefits. I got matched with my recruiter, Alyssa. After chatting with her and learning more about the agency itself and the benefits they could offer, I felt that HPC was the right fit for myself and my family.
Working for HPC has given my career new life! My current assignment is my first travel assignment, and it’s AMAZING. Everyone has been great to work with, both at HPC and at the hospital. I’m truly blessed to have this job fall in my lap, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to work at this facility for my first contract. It’s closer to home, I get to see my kids before they get off to school in the mornings, and I’m sleeping in my own bed.
What advice would you give to other traveling healthcare providers?
Your recruiter can make or break your travel experience! If you’re constantly getting ghosted or it’s pulling teeth to get ahold of someone, run the other way! The right agency and recruiter will work for you and have your best interests in mind because they want your continued business. And a bigger agency isn’t always better. When you’re looking into agencies, vet them as much as they do you! I ultimately chose HPC not only because of their benefits, but also because they’re based in my home state of Michigan, they have a good relationship with many hospitals locally, and they’re nurse owned.
What do you think is the most important quality for a nurse to possess?
Flexibility! You can plan out your shift, but your patient, providers, etc., may have other plans. Things can change very quickly in this line of work, and you have to be prepared for the unexpected. Just a few weeks ago I had to completely switch patients at 4:30 a.m. with another nurse because my patient needed a procedure that I hadn’t been trained on for the facility. I had less than three hours left of my shift to do all of the things.
Do you have a memorable experience from your nursing career that has shaped you into the nurse you are today?
I honestly cannot choose! There are so many things that have happened over my career that have shaped me into the nurse I am today. I still remember my first patient that coded and died, the comfort care patient I took care of whose family snuck wine into her room and toasted their mom when she finally passed away, the COVID patient that we were getting ready to intubate who called his wife to say goodbye and then his oxygenation miraculously jumped up and he never needed to be put on the vent (we were all crying). When nights are bad, I hope they don’t take a new spot in my running top five worst nights ever list, and when things are good, we just don’t talk about it, because things can only go downhill from there!
Anything else you’d like to add?
I’m so glad I decided to take the leap and do travel nursing! I never considered myself burnt out at my staff job, but I was, and I didn’t realize it. I am much less stressed now than I was before. It was the change I never knew I needed, and it was the best decision for me. Also, my recruiter, Alyssa, has been amazing to work with and a special shoutout to her for nominating me for Nurses Week. I wouldn’t be here without her!