Profile: Jane Brown finds her drive through caring for others
To serve God, country, and fellow man.
Washburn Student Health Services nurse practitioner Jane Brown has made this triad the motto of her life. During a recent interview in her office in Morgan Hall’s Room 140, the longtime nurse talked about how she feels driven by caring for people. The stethoscope around her neck looked more like a necklace, because of how naturally she left it there.
“A lot of people live for different things,” Brown said. “I live for health care. That’s what motivates me. That is the engine that starts me up every day.”
Serving her fellow man
Brown has been at Washburn since 2007, teaching 10 years in the nurse practitioner program before moving to her current position as a part-time nurse.
“I like to help people and be with different people every day,” Brown said. “That’s just very exciting. To learn about your story of what is wrong and how I can help you and give you health advice and stuff that would make you feel better.”
Being that source of care has motivated Brown to keep up to date with professional requirements ever since she became a registered nurse in 1966, after earning a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Nebraska.
“You have to have so many continuing educations to keep your license,” Brown said. “Then you have to have more certification to keep your credentials to be a nurse practitioner. So, we always have to keep clinical hours and continuing education.”
‘So full of knowledge’
Brown also has a master’s degree in nursing from Montana State University and a doctorate in philosophy from Columbia Pacific University. Her experience and expertise are noticed by those around her.
“She’s so full of knowledge and it’s interesting to listen to her,” said Julie Schwerdt, senior administrative assistant for Washburn Student Health Services.
One key reason Brown gets so much respect is because she serves as a nurse to the patients and a teacher to the students. Brown takes pride in having filled those dual roles while carrying out assignments that included running a mobile health clinic for the Washburn School of Nursing.
“Once a week we would go out in the community,” Brown said. “Maybe we go 30 miles south of town or we would go north to the Indian reservations or just any spot that we could to get students experience.”
The undergraduates who came along would learn how to give shots, take patients’ blood pressure readings and otherwise care for the sick.
‘We are like ‘Wow!”
Pratikshya Pokhrel, nursing student and Washburn Student Health Services employee, said her favorite thing about Brown is the feedback she provides. When Pokhrel gets something right and is recognized, that’s great, she said. But when she gets something wrong while working with Brown, Pokhrel said, that provides her a chance to learn from the teachings of someone who is more experienced.
“Whenever she shares her experience, we are like, ‘Wow!’” Pokhrel said.
Serving her country
Brown’s experience includes becoming a member in 1980 of the Army Nurse Corps, for which she would serve the next 12 years in Texas and Oklahoma. The most exciting part of that involved going out on field training exercises with the soldiers, Brown said.
It was while in the Army that Brown acquired her doctorate in philosophy. At the end of her time in service, she was awarded the U.S. Army Service Medal and commissioned as a lieutenant colonel. Brown’s connection and service to the military continues even decades later. She said she currently volunteers once a week at a VA clinic in Topeka, where she does whatever it takes to support the soldiers.
No time to waste
Experience and efficiency are Brown’s defining characteristics, her co-workers said.
“She is efficient because she tries to get you out of here in a timely manner, but also making sure that you’re getting the right diagnosis and treatment that you need while you’re in here,” said Mayah Mumpower, an assistant at Washburn Student Health Services.
There is no time to waste, according to Brown, who said she is always looking for something to keep her busy. When she is not taking care of someone else’s health, she makes sure to take care of her own. She enjoys walking up and down the stairs of Morgan Hall and has a weekly goal of walking 15 to 18 miles, often in city parks.
Born and raised a Christian, Brown considers serving her country and fellow man to be complete only when you serve God first. For this reason, she considers her work a blessing.
“Not everybody gets to lay hands on somebody and make them feel better,” Brown said. “That is a blessing. A lot of people don’t experience that.”
In her daily prayers, Brown asks God to give her the mental and physical health to continue carrying out her mission of sharing the blessing of health care. As her interview neared its conclusion, duty called. Brown stowed the stethoscope around her neck, asked permission to end the interview and said a quick “Goodbye.”
A patient needed help.