Interview with Nancy Brook, Nurse Practitioner, Health and Wellness Coach, and Adjunct Professor at Stanford Hospital and Clinics
It’s hard to put a label on Nancy Brook. Her experience is as impressive as it is varied—including work as a surgical oncology nurse practitioner, consultant, counselor, coach, adjunct faculty at Stanford Hospital and Clinics—and a former Disney Cast Member. It’s clear that Nancy wears many hats.
After earning her Bachelor of Arts in psychology from College of Notre Dame, Brook knew she wanted to continue her education in a field of healthcare that involved helping others. As such, she decided to earn her RN license and Master of Science in Nursing at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing and took on a role as an oncology nurse practitioner. After many years of working with cancer patients, Brook noticed that her position required extensive counseling skills, so she returned to school to complete her Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology from the University of San Francisco.
Brook’s certifications include ANCC Family Nurse Practitioner and AANP Family Nurse Practitioner. When she’s not nursing, teaching, speaking or coaching through Glass Slipper Consulting, she stays busy raising her active family and writing.
Enjoy our full interview to get Nancy Brook’s take on pursuing a career as a nurse practitioner and the ins and outs of this challenging—but rewarding—field.
GradSchools: What led you to become a Nurse Practitioner? Did you always know it was ‘the career for me’ or did you take a winding journey there?
No, I did not know at all. I always assumed I would become a Medical Social Worker. Sometime during the summer before my senior year at college, I got sick and found myself at a Kaiser Permanente Medical Clinic. The provider who came in to treat me was a Nurse Practitioner. I immediately thought to myself, I could do that! And the rest is history.
GradSchools: Tell us more about your responsibilities in the professional positions you’ve held. How has earning your degrees prepared you for those roles?
While each of my positions have been slightly different, they have all been focused on wellness and patient care. In my current role, I am part of a team that provides comprehensive care for patients with tumors. Our team is involved in the diagnosis and surgical treatment—and we also collaborate with other medical specialties. I could not have been prepared for any of these positions without my education.
GradSchools: What experience do you gain in your different roles as an educator, a nurse practitioner, and a health and wellness coach?
As an educator, I have learned to listen and become a better teacher, which are important skills for nurses at any level. As a nurse practitioner and coach, I have learned how to advocate for patients and their families and change the course of their care during a difficult—and critical—time in their lives.
GradSchools: Talk about your health and wellness coaching. What does it entail?
As a coach, I help my clients identify areas that they want to improve or change. Then I create a step-by-step plan to help them get there and achieve real results. I help them to track their progress and overcome barriers or old habits that no longer serve them well. I also help provide accountability, encouragement, and help them increase their confidence so they can fulfill the dream of achieving a healthy life and lifestyle.
GradSchools: What is the most exciting or rewarding thing about the work you do?
One of the most rewarding parts of my job is being able to work with patients over time—and to develop long-term relationships with them and their families. It is very rewarding to know that you played a role in their journey to overcome a serious condition. The work is exciting in that it is always changing. New advances in healthcare are happening at a rapid speed, as a result of ongoing research and clinical trials.
GradSchools: Do you think that it is an ideal time to earn a nursing degree or pursue a career as a nurse practitioner. If so, why?
Absolutely. The need for qualified nurse practitioners is great, and is expected to grow 22% or more from 2012 to 2022, which is much faster than the average for all occupations[i]. Due to an emphasis on preventive care, increasing rates of chronic conditions and demand for healthcare services from an aging baby boomer population, new nursing positions will continue to be in high demand[ii].
GradSchools: Which skills do you think are necessary for pursuing a master’s degree in nursing?
I think that any nurse who has successfully completed a bachelor degree in nursing and has the desire to enhance their skill set may be prepared to pursue graduate work. Many programs require a research sequence, so an introductory statistics class may be helpful. Other important factors include having a good attitude; a situation that is conducive to studying; a good support system; a commitment to take on the academic challenge; and the ability to manage financially throughout the program.
GradSchools: What advice do you have for a student who wants to become a nurse practitioner? How can students prepare themselves for the challenges?
The best advice I can provide is to be well-prepared. Network with other nursing professionals. Volunteer whenever possible; this will help provide exposure to the healthcare field and also be helpful when you apply for employment. Take your studies seriously, maintain a strong GPA—and manage your time and energy well so you can keep up with the demands of your coursework. With excellent preparation, students may be well-positioned to jumpstart their careers as a nursing professionals.
Sources: [i] onetonline.org/link/summary/29-1171.00 | [ii] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-nurse-practitioners.htm#tab-6
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