Reaching out to the North State

I don’t think I could do anything else. Emergency nursing is it!

After eight years as an Air Force medic, Jenny Brown was sure: she wanted to be an emergency room nurse. She was especially influenced by her time as a flight medic. Jenny helped evacuate injured soldiers in 27 countries, from Iceland to Bosnia to the United Arab Emirates. “I knew then,” she says, “ ‘Wow, this is really what I want to do.’ ”

She also knew that she wanted to apply her talent and ambition in California’s North State. She moved to the area in 2006 with her family and settled into life as a returning veteran and re-entry student.

“It’s pretty challenging,” she says of balancing student life with being a parent. “Being an involved parent means I’m going to be staying up late or getting up at 4 in the morning to get my homework done. And I’ve managed to do it—I’ve been on the Dean’s List every semester.”

Jenny adds that the quality of the Chico State nursing program and her love of medicine has made all those late nights worth it. “I take it really seriously. It means a lot to me.” She will graduate in December 2012.

This past summer, Jenny worked in the emergency room at Saint Elizabeth Community Hospital in Red Bluff through the Rural California Nursing Preceptorship Program. She spent 160 hours at the hospital.

“I got to do all the patient care and medications and the assessments and the paperwork, just like I would after I finished school,” she says. “So it was a really great real-world career experience, but also gave me a taste of what it would be like to actually work in the emergency room.”

That taste of emergency room nursing was even more rewarding than she expected. She loved the variety of cases she saw in a hospital—from infants to geriatrics, accidents to overdoses—which was very different from the largely 20-to-50-year-old male population she treated in the Air Force. “After this experience, I don’t think I could do anything else,” Jenny says. “Emergency nursing is it!“

The preceptorship program doesn’t just benefit students, says Kathleen Kirby, program coordinator. It improves access to medical care in rural Northern California. It gives otherwise isolated hospitals an injection of enthusiasm and talent. “It’s good for staff morale to work with enthusiastic, starry-eyed students, and in this strange economy, they are getting students willing to work a while in the rural areas,” she says.

Jenny plans to stay and serve the North State as an emergency room nurse after graduation.

The preceptorship program is just one of many ways Chico State reaches out to the North State. Read about the campus’s regional outreach and new North State Initiative in the 2012 President’s Report.

Jenny Brown in front of a C-130 on the airfield at Aviano Air Base, Italy.
Jenny Brown in front of a C-130 on the airfield at Aviano Air Base, Italy.