Jessica Brown

To The Healthcare Professionals: Make Sure Every Patient Is Heard

  • BY Sarah Harris
  • PHOTOGRAPHY BY Garvin Tso | Graphic Design by Gus Yoo
  • May 10, 2024

When Jessica Brown started attending AV, she was already equipped with 20 years of experience as a registered nurse. 

“I decided that I wanted to be a Labor and Delivery Nurse after seeing a close friend of mine have her baby. I asked the nurse at the time what her job was and what I needed to do in order to be like her,” Brown said. Brown obtained her associate’s degree in nursing from the College of San Mateo and started working in Labor and Delivery in 2003. 

Brown said, “I loved Labor and Delivery, worked there for 18 years, but decided it was time for a change in 2021. I decided to pursue my bachelor's degree in nursing and started working in an OB/GYN clinic.”

The Post-Licensure BSN programs at AV are mostly online and consist of advanced nursing courses with options for full-time or part-time. The curriculum includes online courses that incorporate health assessment, research, leadership and critical thinking skills.

According to Brown, “All of the classes have been interesting and relevant to nursing practice. All of the professors are extremely smart, prepared, resourceful and amazing patient advocates. Doing the online program makes it hard to get to know the professors, but I hope they all know that I appreciate them.” Brown remembers taking History and Trends in Nursing with History Lecturer Mary Ann Irwin and called the class “fascinating.” 

Brown eventually enrolled in Professor of Nursing Kimberly Kim’s capstone course and expressed a strong desire to make an impact in healthcare.

“The fact that racism and prejudice are so prominent today breaks my heart. Being in the healthcare field, specifically Labor and Delivery, for so long, I have seen firsthand the differences in care that patients receive related to things like skin color, status, income, etc. I knew that Black women had higher risks during pregnancy and delivery, but I did not know all the details,” said Brown. 

Brown set out in search of more information, keeping in mind her goal of reducing risk and saving lives. “The research was eye-opening and sad,” she said. “Black women have 3-4 times the risk of death from pregnancy-related complications when compared to White women. Not only that, more than 80% of deaths during pregnancy and delivery could have been prevented. The main reason for this is racism and implicit bias. Black women are not heard or taken seriously, and this needs to change.”

Brown said, “My ability to change the way medical providers practice is limited, but my ability to educate patients and provide them with the tools needed to advocate for themselves is where I can focus.” With the results of her capstone research, she created a brochure for Black women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. The brochure is filled with information on the risks of pregnancy, what patients should look out for and when to call their providers.

Kim said, “She applied the concepts of the research process and evidence-based practice in her project, which stand out remarkably.”

“While the semester is ending and my project has been submitted, I hope to continue educating Black women, advocating for Black women and doing my part to make sure every patient is heard and treated equally,” said Brown. With her existing experience and new degree, Brown is more than prepared to advocate for all patients, especially the most vulnerable.  

Kim said, “I acknowledge her phenomenal effort in caring for those who are easily ignored by others in healthcare settings. I hope Jessica advances her education and continues to work on the project.”

Brown will cross the stage on May 10 with her fellow College of Science graduates. She is excited to celebrate her accomplishments with family and take a break from homework assignments. “As for my future education, I am just starting to contemplate a master's degree; however, not sure exactly which direction I want to go in. Public Health Nursing is a big interest to me,” Brown said. “I want to make a difference, especially in the lives of marginalized people and communities.”