Q&A with Jay Brownson, Assistant Dean of Nursing at Carrington College in Reno

You might be familiar with Jay Brownson. We certainly are. In fact, he’s such as inspiration that we profiled him for Pride Month, and that’s not including his work in helping to shape our Associate Degree in Nursing program or the four DAISY awards he’s received for his work in the nursing field. Jay’s very presence on the Carrington College campus in Reno has inspired countless faculty, students and staff members, so in honor of that, we would like to share his professional background and some insight into how he was able to find success as part of our community. Check out what he has to say below!  

Can you please tell us a little about yourself and your professional background?

I graduated from Carrington College in 2015 with my Associate Degree in Nursing. I started my career on a telemetry unit in Reno in October of 2015. I continued to work there and became a supervisor of clinical nursing in 2017. This role focused on staff development, working as a charge RN, managing the unit during the night shift. In 2018, I received my BSN from Western Governors University (WGU) and my Master of Science in nursing education in January 2019. I started working for Carrington College in February 2019, teaching didactic and clinical. During this time I was teaching the Medical-Surgical Nursing III course. Also in August of 2019 I changed roles in my hospital and became a house supervisor. In this role I focused on staffing and hospital operations. I oversaw that organization for the days that I was on shift. In 2022, I graduated from Louisiana State university with my MBA. In 2022, I decided to take some time to be a travel nurse. I traveled to Seattle, WA and worked on a surgical stepdown unit, then Palm Springs where I worked on a neuro tele unit, and then finally to Chico CA where I worked on a medical surgical unit. I returned to Carrington College as the ADON in 2023. I just finished my Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) with an emphasis of educational leadership and nurse executive (Graduation was 12/9). I continue to work per diem at the hospital as a house supervisor. I am also a Reno native, born and raised here, so I have a lot of ties to the community. I am also a dad of three boys. I am an openly gay man. Carrington College also did a story on me for Pride Month. Overall, I am an outgoing person with a passion for life.

How did you find your passion for nursing?

I don’t have a specific story that made me want to go into nursing. I knew I wanted to be in healthcare and wanted to help people. Which can be such a cliché answer. I wanted a profession that I could grow in and somewhere that I could make a difference. Not sure what that difference was going to be, but it was really important to me to be able to elicit a change within myself and within my community.

What do you like the most about working in the healthcare industry?

Healthcare is ever changing. No two days are the same and one day while I may be treating patients at the bedside, the next I get to teach the future nurses and on the third day I could be helping to organize a flu shot event for the community. I enjoy being able to do so many different things and make that change that helps in so many different realms. Also how amazing is healthcare? The things that we are do for the health of the world is amazing. From open heart surgery to debulking surgeries of the lungs for COPD patients, to brain tumor removals through the roof of the mouth! Healthcare is truly amazing!

How long have you been with Carrington College?

The Carrington College campus in Reno has been a part of my life since 2013 when I became a student. As a professional I returned in 2019 as a didactic lead faculty and clinical instructor. I continued to work here for a little over three years before I took a break. I also sat on multiple committees for Carrington College. I returned in 2023 as the ADON.

Any advice for other instructors on how you were able to find success at Carrington College?

I sought out mentorship and asked what could be done better. I have always had a passion for teaching individuals and understanding the “why.” My success came from my sense of inquiry from all aspects. Not only did I find out how to change from my peers, mentors and leadership, but I asked the students. I learned a lot about learning styles from the students themselves. They gave me some really honest feedback about my teaching and how I was managing the course. These are things that I still think back on now as I make changes. Carrington College offered me areas to grow and ask questions.

What do you like the most about working in education?

I love it when a student is able to make a connection between the information presented to them in class and a patient presentation. It just is a great feeling when they understand and are able to actually implement what we have taught them.

How does your experience as a former nursing student help in your position?

I think that for this position it really helps me to understand how the program works, the objectives and the type of students that we see. I was a dad of two, working full time and had a pregnant partner at the time that I went through this program. This is the type of students that we see. People with life happening more than a traditional university student. Also while some policies and procedures may have changed the process remains the same. It helps me to remember what it was like.

What are some of your proudest professional accomplishments?

I find a lot of pride within my doctoral project. I did a curricular review of Carrington College’s program and gave some suggestions about how we can increase the information that is taught about the LGTBQIA+ community. This is something that the entire health system is working on, but the work I did can really help out students and the patients of the world. I also am proud of my two certifications, PCCN (Progressive Care Certified Nurse) and CNML (Certified Nurse Manager and Leader). Also my MBA. I did this without any business background and graduated with a 3.8 GPA.

Will continuing your education help you find success?

I just finished my Doctorate of Nursing. I dual emphasized educational leadership and nurse executive. This really gave me a lot of information about the macro system of healthcare and education. While I need to learn more, I feel that this program and degree really has set me up for success especially in this role or moving forward and up within the organization. Bringing in both focuses of the degree helps to bring in the community and healthcare needs into the educational needs.

Have you also received any awards or special recognitions?

I have. I have been lucky enough to receive four DAISY awards. This is a pretty prestigious award within the nursing community. I have two from patient stories, one in leadership and one in education. Having four is really honoring for me. I also have been invited and inducted into Sigma Theta Tau international nursing society. This is a great society to be inducted into.

Any advice for students who are interested in pursuing a career in nursing?

Do it! Nursing is so rewarding and so worth it. The only thing I say is to have a good why. If you are doing this for the schedule or the pay, you can lose yourself within the profession. Have a “why” that gets you up daily and gets you moving. There are so many things to do in nursing. It truly is so amazing that day to day I get to do so many different things!

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