Charles Brooks – or Chuck, as he prefers to be called, is a registered nurse who works with COVD-19 patients at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center. He’s also a two-time graduate of MU, who just earned his master’s degree as a Family Nurse Practitioner in May 2020. But he wasn’t always sure that healthcare was in his future.
“[It’s] kind of an interesting story,” said Brooks. “When I entered into Millersville as an undergraduate [student], my original major was physics. I enrolled in a particular anatomy class taught by Dr. John Hoover, [and there] I realized several of my peers were either Pre-Med or going through Millersville’s undergraduate nursing program, shared with Lancaster General at the time.” He said he debated about what he might like to do post-graduation. “I really liked the idea of being able to merge science and health into something I could personally value as meaningful.” Eventually, Brooks settled on biology as his major.
A few years passed, and Brooks and his then-girlfriend and present-day wife, relocated to San Diego, California from Lancaster County. While the pharmaceutical company he was working for had a sister location in San Diego, it wasn’t hiring. He started considering what other options he might have, and a friend suggested he check out the nursing program, thinking it might be a good fit for his interests and talents. “Nursing seemed pretty much like science wrapped in holistic care.” He says he has no regrets about his decision. “Now as an RN, I’ve come full circle at Millersville, graduating this semester with my master’s degree as a Family Nurse Practitioner. The wealth of knowledge I gained through the years at Millersville, along with my life experiences, has truly been a blessing.”
Of course, Brooks had an interesting end to his most recent studies a Millersville, balancing his critical work with COVID-19 patients at the hospital, meeting due dates for final homework assignments, and his responsibilities as a husband and father – which only increased as K-12 schools in Pennsylvania moved to remote learning for the remainder of the school year. “Though my time at Millersville wasn’t always a “crystal stair,” there were moments where I felt uncertainty, anxiety . . . and wanted to give up,” he said. “What helped to find my way [though these difficult times] was hope, family, friendships, professors and perseverance. At Millersville, I realized that support, while not obtrusive, is always available and waiting!”
Brooks is certainly putting his newly learned skills to work at a critical time. “Seeing what some of the hotspot places like New York City, Philadelphia, and also the states of Washington and California have been doing is very vital,” he said. “Because this coronavirus is novel, we are all motivated to work together and learn from one another. In addition to the national standpoint of collaboration, we also review international scientific information from studies and clinical practices. Whenever possible, we’re always wanting to try and use evidence-based practices.”
He said he takes preventative measures when arriving home at the end of his shift to help prevent the spread of the virus to his family. “This is always a concern for anyone, especially with so many unknown variables,” explained Brooks. “By practicing proper hygiene measures – consisting of things like handwashing to covering coughs and sneezes, along with personal protective equipment – I feel confident in doing the best I can to protect my family, and myself, from transmitting the virus.” Brooks encourages individuals to continue practicing good hygiene, handwashing and wearing a mask in public. “Those types of [preventive] measures are actions that we can control,” he explained, acknowledging that the medical community’s understanding of the virus is still evolving.
As he reflects on his time in the family nurse practitioner program at MU, Brooks says he’s grateful for the University’s caring faculty. “The nursing department is so close-knit that I’ve had memorable moments with many of the faculty and staff!” he said. “Like Dr. Linda Lee. Over the past year, Dr. Lee has been a great support and cheerleader, sharing her experiences and encouraging us to hang in there, we’re almost to the finish line,” said Brooks. “Her enthusiasm, patience, and kind words and actions are what motivated me to persevere, especially during this last semester with the pandemic.” Brooks also expresses his sincere gratitude to his fellow classmates. “Without them, I’m not sure how well I would have made it through the way I did!”
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