We sat down with Brooke Burks, ARNP, MSN, NNP-BC, a neonatal nurse practitioner (NNP) at Pediatrix Medical Group of Oklahoma and Mercy Health Center in Oklahoma City, Okla. Brooke has worked in the field for 17 years, providing care and support to high-risk neonates and their families. Watch the video for the full interview or check out the highlights below!
How did you get into medicine? Did a woman inspire you to enter the field?
I grew up in a funeral home and knew that I didn't want to go that route. Both my mom and my grandmother were nurses, not in the NICU but in different areas of nursing. So, I knew from a fairly young age that I wanted to do something in medicine. And it was really in high school that I was exposed to the NICU through a summer program that I was part of and decided that was where I wanted to go. I knew that nurse practitioners were used in the NICU quite a bit, and I was fortunate enough to go straight through from nursing school to nurse practitioner school. That was my desire, and it's been a great job.
What do you think it means to be a woman in healthcare today?
I think women are well-equipped to deal with the different facets of health care. We have empathy. We have a lot of things we can relate to with the moms, especially in the NICU, even if we haven't necessarily had a baby in the NICU. It is a really important place for women to be and supporting having so many women working in the NICU that are in the field of healthcare is a great support system for each other.
What are some of the positives that come from being a woman in medicine?
I believe our ability to multitask is very helpful—just the day-to-day work life, which is what we're used to doing at home most of the time. Also, the empathy. Again, in the specialty I'm in, women being able to support the moms and really relate to them has been something that I know through my own time in the hospital with my own children was very helpful.
How can women clinicians best support fellow women clinicians?
I believe just trying to be with each other through the difficult and different phases of our lives. I'm in the phase of three toddlers, and people are in other phases of parenting or their life. I think remembering those times and being supportive of each other through the different phases of the difficulties we have. Everybody's going through something different but being supportive and recognizing that everybody's got something going on. I feel very fortunate in our unit that we are very family-centered among the staff, which is helpful for everybody’s struggles, especially what everyone is going through this year.
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