BRAND Program Supports Homegrown Nurses
Having a bachelor’s degree doesn’t mean you are locked into a particular field. If at some point you decide you want to become a nurse and make a difference in Wyoming’s medical field, the BRAND program will give you the needed skills to be successful.
“Graduating with a four-year degree in this state actually makes you pretty competitive,” says Alex Milberger, a 2013 graduate of the BRAND program. “Hospitals are trying to get as many four-year-degreed employees as they can. The majority of the state colleges are just two-year degrees, and a four-year degree does put you ahead of them and gives you a better advantage at finding jobs.”
The BRAND Program, which stands for “Bachelors Reach for Accelerated Nursing Degree,” is an accelerated bachelor’s in nursing (BSN) program for students who already have a bachelor’s in another field and who want to become a registered nurse. The BRAND program began in 2008. Fifteen months long, the program includes online learning, hybrid courses, and hands-on clinical experiences. Since 2009, 137 students have graduated from the program.
The Susan K. McMurry Strategic Partnership for the Advancement of Nursing in Wyoming supports student scholarships through McMurry Nursing Scholars and faculty positions in nursing. Mick and Susie McMurry, who are among the biggest supporters of the University of Wyoming, created this partnership fund.
“I felt really good about receiving a scholarship from a couple who are so interested in education and bettering the communities that surround them,” says Karen Coddaire, current BRAND student. “Aside from the financial reward, it was nice being supported by someone who believes in the cause and sharing their wealth.”
Karen has resided in Jackson for the past six years after moving to Wyoming from Vermont. She started the program in May 2013. When she graduates in August 2014, she hopes to continue working and giving back to the community of Jackson, but she is also willing to go wherever her skills are needed and will make a difference.
Geraghty Berntson graduated from the BRAND nursing program in 2013 and is working at the Mountain View Regional Hospital in Casper. She received her bachelor’s in exercise science and sports medicine but wanted to be able to help patients in a greater capacity. The McMurry scholarship gave her the opportunity to go back to school to do that.
“It made it affordable for me to go back to school,” says Berntson. “It would have been much more stressful without it. It was a really wonderful scholarship to have, and I’m grateful.”
Alex Milberger graduated from the BRAND program in August 2013 and was also a recipient of the McMurry scholarship. From Casper, he was able to get a job on the neurology floor of the Wyoming Medical Center. One of the benefits of the BRAND program for Alex was being able to stay in Wyoming and make a difference in his community.
“I get to go to work and take care of people every day and help people start to feel better,” says Milberger. “That’s more of a reward than anything.”
Alex Milberger, Geraghty Berntson, and Karen Coddaire, BRAND students