5 Questions: Suzette Bramwell


Suzette Bramwell is in her second year as a community and public health nursing professor at BYU. Though Bramwell has spent the last eight years in the nursing field, she says she didn’t always plan on being a nurse.

You didn’t decide on nursing until your junior year. What made you make the switch?

It was a good fit for me. It made a lot of sense to have a job that would be flexible, where you would have a lot of variety and options to do what you wanted to do, because when you think of nursing you always think of bedside nursing, and I’ve never been a bedside nurse. I’ve had a variety of different jobs and I’ve been able to use my nursing in lots of different ways. It’s fun to be back here teaching other courses and being able to let the students know they have lots of options and lots of ways they can influence people as a nurse.

(Prior to junior year,) I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I had no idea how competitive it was. I knew I wanted to do something health related. I loved health education, I loved that aspect of the career, but nursing ended up being a really great fit, and I’ve been able to do a lot of good things with it.

If there was one thing you wanted your students to take away from your classes, what would it be?

That they have options. The skills they are learning and the things they are doing can be applied in all aspects of life. They can do it professionally, either in the hospital or in the community, whatever setting they want to do it in, or they can do it at home with their families. They can serve their wards. They are learning skills that will help them be instruments throughout their lives, helping and blessing people.

What is your teaching philosophy?

One of my favorite quotes is by Aristotle: ‘It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.’ So, I think that we need to be very open-minded in the things that we learn and a lot of things in nursing, there is an exact way to do it. There are tests and procedures you have to do exactly right. But when you move into the community and public health realm, there isn’t one right answer, and so to be able to think openly and to be able to collaborate and work with other people and being able to entertain thoughts, problem solving and figuring out the best way to work, is really what I try to do. So, I do a lot of group work in my classes, I try to give a lot of real-life experiences and help (students) with the critical thinking process, rather than the right or wrong way. I don’t give a lot of tests, we do a lot of case studies and a lot of assessments, learning about community resources and different people and what they believe and why they believe it.

What are all the factors that go into this decision? We might think they need this, but they might be choosing between food or healthcare, and so just understanding the different health asperities and factors that go into why people make decisions and how we can best help them in their environment. It’s definitely a different perspective than a lot of the nursing courses, but it’s something I feel strongly about and love.

During your first year at BYU, have there been any highlights or cool experiences?

One highlight is the global health and human diversity program that the college of nursing has every spring. We take students all throughout the world to have these different experiences. I was able to take students to the Navajo nation in Arizona this spring and that was a wonderful experience. We lived there for three weeks, and I was there with awesome students. Really being able to be a part of that culture and learn a lot about it in a nurse’s role, that was something that is very unique to BYU’s nursing program that I was really happy to be a part of.

How do you incorporate the gospel into your teaching?

The mission for the college of nursing is ‘to learn the healer’s art,’ and so we have the opportunity in all of our classes to teach from a gospel perspective of ‘how can we help heal others?’ It’s not just their physical self that we’re looking at, but we can look at the emotional and spiritual side as well. As nurses you have an opportunity to connect with people, with individuals and with families, and you don’t necessarily bring the gospel to them but you bring those principles and that reassurance to them. Because often they’re dealing with very difficult things, so I think it’s bringing the spiritual side into it, enhancing our ability to give holistic care to these people and the help and the support they need. I think it fits really well; a lot of people when they’re healing do want some kind of spiritual support, and I think we’re able to offer that.

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