Heroes

Frontline Falcons are health care heroes

BGSU thanks all of our alumni in health care

By Sarah Bednarski ’00

Health care workers, from doctors to nurses to respiratory therapists, play a critical role in keeping our communities healthy. Today, our health professionals are on the forefront of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among those on the front lines, are thousands of Bowling Green State University alumni serving in hospitals and other health care locations around the world, treating and caring for patients and putting themselves at risk in order to save lives.

BGSU alumni are reorganizing hospital units to open more beds for patients while also taking stock of vital equipment and resources needed in ensure patient care continues without interruption.

Here is a Q&A with some of the faces serving in health care today:

Bri-McGuffie

Brianna McGuffie

Year graduated and degree?

Class of 2017 with bachelor's degree in nursing.  

Where do you live and what do you do?

I am currently a registered nurse at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta in Atlanta, where I reside. I work on a neurology/medical surgical unit, but more recently named the COVID unit of the hospital. I am also a full-time student pursuing my master’s degree in nursing education.

How did your years at BGSU help you in preparing for working in health care, particularly in today’s world as we navigate COVID-19?

My years at Bowling Green were some of the best years of my life. Although I faced many challenges throughout my four years, it all lined up to lead me to where I am today. Bowling Green taught me to never give up, no matter the circumstances. BGSU helped me find myself, my passion for helping people and what I consider my true calling in life, nursing. Nursing has brought me so much happiness and being called a Frontline Falcon is an honor. Although this is scary time in all of our lives, especially for the health care field, I could not see myself doing anything else. In unpredictable times like these, I feel like Bowling Green has helped me be as prepared as possible and know that what I am doing is for a cause bigger than myself. I could not be more thankful for what the University has taught me. It has shown me that no matter what life throws at you, you stay strong and believe in yourself as well as other people. I learned to always put other people before myself and to do everything with all of my heart. I am so thankful for the memories and lessons Bowling Green State University taught me, which will stay with me forever.

What advice would you give to current students pursuing a degree in health care?

The advice I would give to current students is that to be in the health care field you have to have a mindset that it is more than just a job. You have to have a true desire to be in the field to really make an impact on people. I would advise them to never stop learning and to really understand that what they are doing will change the lives of so many people. You may be with people for their first breath or their last, or the time in between. No matter what, you should always treat everyone like it was your family member or a close friend and think of how you would want them to be treated. As a health care worker, you will touch the lives of many and many lives will touch yours. No one said this profession would be easy, but, boy, is it worth it. It is truly the most rewarding profession you could ever imagine having and the feeling of seeing someone go from sickness to health is indescribable.

What do you want people to know about the work you and other health care professionals are doing during this unprecedented time?

During this time, I would encourage everyone to continue to take this issue seriously. Everyone is saying that we are heroes, but in all actuality, we are scared. We have parents, grandparents and children at home who we are scared to pass on the virus to. We are risking our health to help as many people as we can. We stand on our feet for more than 12 hours of the day in gowns, gloves, masks and face shields to try to protect ourselves. Most facilities are running out of supplies and we walk into work every shift not knowing how much we may be exposed to. I want people to know that they should follow the guidelines that are recommended and to do their best to take the precautions to stay safe. This is not only for the well-being of yourself, but for all of the people out in the world. It only takes one person to stop or continue the spreading. Also, we as health care professionals are trying to find joy in these dark times, so if you know someone in the field, please check or reach out to them. We are trying to cope to the best of our abilities and doing our best to remain a positive mindset during this difficult time.

Libby-Fannin

Libby Fannin

Year graduated and degree?

I graduated in 2013 as an RN/associate science through the FRMC partnership.

Where do you live and what do you do?

I currently live in Wakeman, Ohio, and am an emergency room registered nurse at Mercy Health — Allen Hospiltal in Oberlin, Ohio. I have previously worked at the Cleveland Clinic and MetroHealth System, both in the ERs as an RN as well.

How did your years at BGSU help you in preparing for working in health care, particularly in today’s world as we navigate COVID-19?

The courses and program I went through set me up in an amazing way. Looking back at my abilities compared to my peers as I navigated joining the workforce and nurse residency, I was far more equipped than many others. The amount of clinical hours was far superior to other schools and gave me an edge that I still notice. I also developed friendships and contacts that I still rely on today. I really enjoyed my time at BGSU, I loved the Firelands campus and I loved my professors and their availability to me. I would be ecstatic if my own children chose to follow my steps and attend BGSU as well!

What advice would you give to current students pursuing a degree in health care?

The only advice I have is to keep pushing through! Nursing school was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I’m a single mom of three kids, but it is every bit worth it! Take it one day and one class at a time.

What do you want people to know about the work you and other health care professionals are doing during this unprecedented time?

What I want people to know most right now is that while all health care professionals choose this path and are happy we are here and able to help, we are also just as uncertain and scared as everyone else during these times. We put on our brave faces and use what resources we have and will do everything it takes to make the best of this not-so-great situation. The support from the community around us and my family has been amazing and that helps so much. I’ve never been more proud to be able to serve my community.

Julie-Goins-Whitmore

Julie Goins-Whitmore

Year graduated and degree?

I graduated from BGSU in 2012, earning my master’s in business administration

Where do you live and what do you do?

I have been a registered nurse at Mercy Health — St. Vincent Medical Center in Toledo for 30 years, and my current role is a Neuroscience Program Manager. I have oversight to the Mobile Stroke Unit, EEG, Community Paramedicine and Telestroke programs.

How did your years at BGSU help you in preparing for working in health care, particularly in today’s world as we navigate COVID-19?

My education at BGSU taught me to consider not only local but global perspectives when it comes to business and technology. This concept is crucial as we navigate the current COVID-19 pandemic. We are able to interpret data from other countries and utilize it to enhance and adjust our response not only in Ohio but across the United States. Best practices from overseas can be modified to meet the needs of patients in the U.S. The Executive MBA curriculum served as a wonderful foundation and reinforced this concept with our trip abroad to Hong Kong and China, allowing us to observe and interact with international business leaders.

What advice would you give to current students pursuing a degree in health care?

Look around and remember every detail of what is happening. During this difficult time, you will learn lessons that will serve you for the rest of your career. Put your patients first and care for each of them like you would your own family. No matter what situation you find yourself in, this guiding principle will serve you well.

What do you want people to know about the work you and other health care professionals are doing during this unprecedented time?

During this unprecedented time, I would like for people to know that most health care providers chose this profession because they love helping others. We don’t practice the art of medicine and nursing for the fame or glory; we do it because it makes us happy and we love to give back to our communities. During difficult times, we may be as scared or worried as others but we push through it and take care of those who need us the most. I consider it an honor and privilege to serve patients and their families during their most vulnerable time. Lastly, behind every successful health care provider is a wonderful, giving family who provides love and support on the good days and the bad days. We couldn’t do it without them! Special thanks to my husband and children!

Mike-Conrad

Mike Conrad

Year graduated and degree?

I graduated with an MBA from BGSU in the spring of 2012.

Where do you live and what do you do?

I live in Findlay, Ohio, and am the director of Mercy Health — Life Flight Network based in Toledo.

How did your years at BGSU help you in preparing for working in health care, particularly in today’s world as we navigate COVID-19?

One of the most valuable experiences for me at BGSU was learning to work as part of a diverse team to solve issues and problems. Our MBA cohort included individuals from accounting to engineering and everything in between. While working on projects throughout our 18-month program, we learned when to lead and when to follow — both are extremely important. As the director of Life Flight, my direct reports are both clinical and aviation managers. I am not a clinical person by training. My background is in aviation as a helicopter pilot. There are times when the best course of action is to let the expert lead, and if necessary, remove any roadblocks preventing them from accomplishing the mission. I have a great team here at Life Flight and I have confidence and trust in them to lead when necessary. One of my favorite quotes: “Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” — George S. Patton Earning my MBA at BGSU also prepared me for the challenges I would face in overseeing supply chain items both for our clinical team and our aviation department. Especially now during the pandemic, working with our frontline managers to ensure our teams have the things they need to care for our patients and protect themselves in the process. Additionally, parts for our aircraft come from Canada, Europe and Asia. In this time of restricted travel and commerce, we have had to work closely with the aircraft manufacturers to keep our aircraft operational and ready to serve the region

What advice would you give to current students pursuing a degree in health care?

Health care is a calling. Make sure it is something you are committed to doing. You are going to embark on a career of serving others, whether they are patients or those who care for patients.                                            

What do you want people to know about the work you and other health care professionals are doing during this unprecedented time?

We hear that health care is “on the frontline” of this fight, and they are indeed! If this is the case, in my opinion, Life Flight and other medical transport agencies are the “tip of the spear.” When our medical teams transport patients, they are providing care and comfort to these patients prior to reaching the hospital. Everything our team does is deliberate and methodical to protect the patient, the community and themselves. Our job as leaders is to provide them with the tools, equipment and processes to make sure they can provide this valuable service to the region.