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#YearoftheNurseEducator—Brandon Varilek

Brandon Varile

Why did you decide to become a nurse?

I became a nurse because I genuinely enjoy helping others in times of need. I couldn’t think of a better profession to put myself in a position to help others. The nursing profession has so many different specialty areas and opportunities for professional growth that I was very comfortable committing myself to a life-long career in nursing.

What drew you to become a nurse educator?

As a senior in my bachelor’s program, I was a mentor for junior nursing students and helped with skills labs and simulation which is how I found my passion for teaching. I was also exposed to conducting original research during my senior year research course which inspired me to pursue the BSN to PhD degree to follow both of my passions: research and teaching.

How has your nurse educator certification helped you in your faculty role?

Being a certified nurse educator has allowed me to focus on evidence-based teaching and learning strategies to maximize learner engagement and comprehension of the material I am teaching. With my focus on evidence-based teaching, I am committed to maximizing my teaching effectiveness through strategies that are backed by research and not falling into a routine of continuing to do what I have always done in the past.   

What is one of your greatest accomplishments? 

My wife, Kama, and I finished our doctoral degrees within six months of each other. We had two daughters during our degree programs. We often reflect on how that was even possible, but somehow, we made it through. I am incredibly proud of both of us achieving doctoral degrees and raising two amazing daughters in the process.

What is a fun fact about yourself?

I am a musician at heart. If I wasn’t a nurse, I would have become a musician in some capacity. I decided in high school that no matter what I choose for a career path, I will always have music. I keep my musical side alive by singing with the South Dakota Symphony Chorus. Also, I love playing golf!

What you'd like students to know: tips and advice.

Focus on self-care early. It can be so easy to be consumed by the responsibility of schooling or taking care of patients. I am speaking from experience in saying those responsibilities can make it easy to not take time for yourself and can lead to unintentional health effects. I cannot advocate for you enough to take the time you need to rest, recover, and rejuvenate. Find something you are passionate about and “fills your cup” outside of school/work and do it often.