Lisa Brosnan, BA, BSN, RN, JD

Lisa Brosnan

Lisa Brosnan, J.D., B.S.N., R.N.

Class of 2017

Baystate Medical Center

My decision to further my education in nursing in the Elms DNP Program, and to pursue a career as a family nurse practitioner, was not made lightly. Last summer, when I was deciding whether or not to enroll at Elms, my two sons were only 2 and 4 years old, and I was a very busy wife and mother, as well as a nurse at Baystate Medical Center. I was worried about how my decision would affect my family, and as a true “Type A” perfectionist, I wondered whether I could successfully juggle school, work and family responsibilities and live up to my own, sometimes impossibly high, expectations. However, I reminded myself that I had taken leaps of faith before when it came to decisions about my life and career.  

Back in 1999, I made a huge decision to leave nursing altogether and enter law school, hoping to advocate for patients on a broader scale.  While I did well in law school, my actual legal career was short-lived because, in all honesty, my heart was not in it.  I did not feel the same sense of purpose and joy from doing legal work that I always felt when providing hands-on nursing care. Admitting this to myself, and my family, was difficult after investing so much time and energy towards a career in law.  Equally difficult was the process of easing my way back into the nursing world after such a long absence, but with the help of some very talented and patient preceptors at Baystate, I successfully made the transition.  The leap of faith that brought me back to nursing is one I have never regretted. I followed my heart and my gut, and they did not steer me wrong.  After reentering the profession in 2004, my passion for nursing grew, as did my confidence in my clinical skills and judgment.  By 2014, I was feeling ready to advance my nursing career.  With all of this in mind, I ultimately decided it was time for my next big leap, so I enrolled at Elms.

            Now, nearly one year later, I can honestly say that I am happy with my decision.  Exhausted – but happy.  It has not been an easy year by any means, and the juggling act that I worried about before enrolling in the program, has been tough. I ended up going per diem at work to make more time for family and school.  As it turns out, going to school with small children is definitely a challenge. I have a lot of “mommy guilt,” especially when my three year old looks up at me and says, “Aww mommy, do you have to go to the library again?”  Also, I have learned that kids have an uncanny ability to get sick right before an assignment is due – it’s like they have a sixth sense! However, having children has also made me a more efficient student.  I have learned to fit schoolwork in while my boys are watching a cartoon or napping.  And my husband (who is also in school) and I have really pulled together as a team to make sure that our family comes first, no matter what. 

Some of my biggest supporters this year have been my Elms classmates.  Because of Elms’ hybrid mixture of face-to-face and online classes, I feel that I have gotten to know my classmates (and professors) much better than I would have in an online-only program.  I have enjoyed and benefitted highly from our classroom time together, and am so proud and inspired to be surrounded by such bright and energetic colleagues. Their words of encouragement have, at times, made all the difference and have kept me pushing forward. What has also inspired me are classes such as Healthcare Policy and Advocacy, which have shown me that nurses do not have to be voiceless, powerless cogs in the healthcare wheel. In fact, nurses, especially those who are doctorally-prepared, can be strong advocates for patients and fellow providers on a local, state and even national level.  The potential to have an impact on issues that are near and dear to my heart (e.g.- safe staffing and maternal/child health issues) is exciting to say the least, and an excellent reason to keep working towards graduation in 2017!

What I would say to those considering the Elms DNP Program is to be brave and take that leap of faith. No, it will not be easy. You will be exhausted and sometimes frustrated, you may well drive your friends and family crazy, and your house may start to look like it was hit by a tornado.  However, it will be worth it.  If I have learned anything in my forty-two years on this earth, it is that without pushing yourself to change, to grow, to question, and to move beyond your comfort zone, you can never discover your true passions and full potential in life.  The face of healthcare is changing, and by taking that leap and becoming a doctorally-prepared nurse, I hope to be at the forefront of this change, helping to ensure that patients receive the safest, most compassionate, and highest quality care.