July 2016 Ball State graduate Brooke Van Hook poses outside Community Hospital Anderson, where she works.

[dropcap]F[/dropcap]resh out of college, Brooke Van Hook is tackling the demands of being an emergency room nurse.

The 12-hour shifts at her hometown Community Hospital Anderson are a fast-paced rush of adrenaline, and the range of medical crises requires an array of nursing skills.

Ball State graduate Brooke Van Hook works with a hospital patient.

As a nurse, Van Hook is among several medical professionals in the ER who focus on optimal patient care. That team effort is a key to the educational approach of Ball State’s new College of Health.

Whether a patient is suffering from a minor sprain or is having a massive heart attack, Van Hook has to be ready to respond quickly to any situation thrown her way and contribute to whatever course of medical care is being delivered.

“It’s the first door that leads to many other doors,” said Van Hook, who graduated from Ball State in July. “You have to think fast. It’s the thrill of the ever-changing day. You never know what to expect.”

Van Hook was already familiar with Community because she worked there as a part of her capstone course. But now that she’s on staff at the hospital, she has plenty of time to get to know her team. Case managers, dietitians, doctors, emergency medical technicians, other nurses and physician assistants all collaborate.

Van Hook said she sees it like different pieces of a puzzle fitting together to best serve patients.

“It takes a village, because no one person can do everything for the patient. And, it leads to a better overall experience.”

Right alongside her is a fellow 2016 Ball State nursing grad, Shelli Reed.

“It was great to start with Brooke because we both are brand-new nurses on such a busy unit, and at times it can get very overwhelming. Brooke is a great resource to turn to because it shows that I’m not alone in this journey. We both root each other on and share in our successes,” Reed said.

College of Health and cooperation

The team approach Van Hook, Reed and their colleagues take is also integral to the university’s new College of Health, which promises collaboration across six departments and 16 clinics, centers and labs.

Ball State alumna Joni Brinkman, director of the hospital’s emergency department, poses with fellow Ball State alumna Brooke Van Hook.

Fellow alumna Joni Brinkman (left), ’80, directs Community’s emergency department, where Van Hook loves the fast-paced work.

Students across the college’s disciplines will work together more “through curriculum modifications that will bring them together in the classroom, patient-care simulations and clinical experiences, plus extracurricular activities such as comingling of student organizations, campus lectures and community outreach initiatives,” said College of Health Dean Mitch Whaley.

Van Hook is proud that the university has a dedicated college and thinks it will make it easier for health majors to get to know one another.

After graduating and securing the job in Anderson, Van Hook still had one crucial test to become a registered nurse — passing the state boards. In September, she checked this off the list.

In some ways, though, her education hasn’t stopped. She’s still learning how to prioritize and effectively communicate with doctors. The seasoned professionals help her with these challenges and motivate her to stay abreast of health care trends and new medicines.

But to her colleague and fellow 2016 Ball State grad, she’s off to a great start.

“Brooke is quick on her feet, eager to learn and an overall positive energy in the ER,” said Reed.

It’s finally all coming together for Van Hook, and she’s seeing the hard work pay off.

“During my first shift as an RN, I had to keep pinching myself. Finally, after all the crying, worrying, late nights studying and sleepless nights, I had accomplished what I had been dreaming of since the get–go.”

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