Returning to further her education and being part of the first nursing cohort at Beal College in Bangor, Lanie Brenton considered herself a “non-traditional” scholarship awardee. She was already raising her family when she decided to expand her career horizons. Lanie had first started her role in healthcare in 2013. Graduating with her medical assistant diploma (MA) from Beal College, she was hired by the Milbridge Medical Center. However, it wasn’t too long before the goal of becoming a fully registered nurse was in her sights.
As she explains, nursing offers more autonomy, expanded knowledge, direct patient care, variety, and continuous growth. Being an advocate for the community and leadership possibilities were also high on her list of opportunities. So, when her second child was only two weeks old, she went back to Beal College for that coveted RN degree. Balancing the workload of nursing school with the care of a seven-year-old and a newborn required enormous skills in time management, but it’s an effort of which she is rightly proud. “I never failed”, she recalls, “despite the struggles.”
And, there were other challenges in store. Covid-19 was declared a pandemic in 2020, just as she was finishing her last year. As a result, the “partnership” program during which students pursue an area of high interest was shut down. Under normal circumstances, this is a training period providing clinical, hands-on experience. Lanie had planned on emergency room instruction at Down East Community Hospital in Machias. But, the virus made that valuable practice too risky and the hospital closed student access. Lanie and her classmates wound up finishing their classes online.
As a new graduate nurse, she worked at Maine Coast Hospital in Ellsworth in the medical-surgical department. She felt the loss of that partnership program acutely. Adapting to new duties as “on the job training” was difficult. In addition, dealing with an unknown virus was frightening and it seemed that Covid guidelines were constantly changing. Keeping up with current information and protocols was a daily stress, one she never could have foreseen as a student nurse.
This past year, Lanie accepted an offer from Down East Community Hospital and returned to the Milbridge Medical Center as a physician practice RN. Once again, she is very happy to be part of the MMC team and to have the opportunity to serve her community in the vital way she had envisioned. The determination she displayed throughout her schooling serves her well as she shoulders her new responsibilities: Covid screening, triage, and patient education on a variety of diseases.
As for the future, she is planning to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) this fall, again online at Beal. Goal oriented and seeing a need in the area, she is interested in gaining a certificate for diabetic training.
The Elaine Hill Memorial Scholarship has helped her achieve some of those goals and she feels especially grateful as a non-traditional student. Education, she says, takes dedicated time, as does motherhood. There is not much time left over for outside work to pay the tuition. Moreover, on a personal level, she is so pleased and proud to walk in Elaine Hill’s footsteps, carrying on her nursing tradition at the Milbridge Medical Center.