The phrase “STEM career” is a vague term that actually represents an exciting array of jobs. For STEM month, we at Girl Scouts of Central Maryland would like to introduce you to several women who work in STEM fields. They will tell you in their own words why STEM careers are the best!
Danielle M. Brown, RN
Registered Nurse who is self-employed with a contract for the Anne Arundel County Dept. of Health Medicaid program
Education History: Associate of Arts in Health Science from Los Angeles Pierce College; Associate of Science/Nursing from Los Angeles Pierce College; Certification in chemotherapy administration, PICC line placement (a type of semi-permanent IV line), and home health…to name a few.
What do you do?
I am a community based Registered Nurse. I have a background in Oncology/Hematology/Infectious Diseases (Cancer, Blood Disorders, HIV/AIDS). I have worked in hospitals on many different types of units, private practice delivering chemotherapy to cancer clients, and home health/hospice. Community nursing is my most favorite. When you are in the community, in someone’s home, you are on their time, and not rushed. You get to do a lot of teaching, and support within their environment, which in turn makes for a better outcome.
I am a Registered Nurse Monitor for my county’s local health department, and see clients for the Department of Aging and Disabilities who are very poor and have Medicaid to pay for their health care. We visit our clients in their home, assist them with receiving help with bathing, meals, and other personal care so they can remain in place instead of living in a nursing home.
How did you end up in this field?
When I was five years old, I had to have my tonsils removed. I wasn’t happy about being in the hospital, but I really liked the nice ladies in white who brought me popsicles, and were very kind. I started reading books about people who helped others, people with disabilities, and medical type books. When I was 13, I volunteered as a Candy Striper at a hospital that was only 3 doors from my house, and completed 500 hours of service. I was awarded a small scholarship from the Optimist Club for my community service. I also worked in the kitchen and delivered food to the patients for several years while in high school. That was actually a very fun job.
What is a typical day like at your job?
A typical day in my job is getting in my own car, dressed in street clothes, and driving around Anne Arundel County visiting clients. Each day is different, for I can see a client in a really nice home without any struggles, but they receive our services because they were born with a disability. I can be in some of the county or city housing developments seeing an elderly person who is truly scrapping by on a very small income of about $700.00 month.
What is the most surprising thing that you have discovered about your field?
Every day holds surprises of some kind. From helping a client solve an issue with their housing, to teaching a client how to measure their blood sugar, or just spending some extra time sitting and listening. Not all clients want issues to be solved, but just be heard.
What did you have to learn in order to do what you do?
Besides going to nursing school, being strong in nursing judgment, and being able to communicate effectively, and listen well. Knowing your “audience” is really important. Each client is unique in how they choose to live, take care of their health, how they learn new information. One of the hardest things for a nurse to come to terms with is that we all have the right to live our lives the way we choose, even if it is not in our best interest. It is not a community nurse’s job to completely change a person, but to give them the information or tools to reach a better choice. You have to be able to let go if the client does not make a better choice. Sometimes, this is very hard.
What is one piece of advice you would give to girls about careers in STEM?
I think most people think of STEM as mostly math and engineering, but it also encompasses fields in life science as well. And there are plenty of fields within life science that don’t require years of study, like a doctor, and are just as important. Nursing/Nurse Practitioner, Perfusionist, Physical Therapist, Radiology Technician, Physician’s Assistant, to name a few.
What is something girls should know about STEM?
Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself with math and science. And consider a field in life science that will bring you a sense of purpose and joy.
Were you a Girl Scout?
Yes, I was a Girl Scout for only 3 years. My troop couldn’t keep a leader. I promised myself that if I had a girl when I became a mom, I would be a leader. I have been a leader of my girls’ troop (pictured right) for eight years.