11 May Awestruck by “the power of birth,” Lynette Brown is in her 22nd year as an OB nurse, serving her community
At a young age, Lynette Brown was fascinated by babies – as a teenager, she spent countless hours babysitting and reading books about childbirth – but she told herself she would never become a nurse.
“The one thing I said I would never, ever, ever do with complete solidarity is be a nurse, because I was terrified of medical things as a kid,” Brown said.
Now, Brown, RN, is going on her 29th year with Olympic Medical Center, including her 22nd as a nurse in the obstetrics unit.
I remain awestruck by the power of birth after all these years. - Lynette Brown, RN
“Birth changed it,” Brown said. “Every day I get to show up to work and be a part of somebody’s most memorable life experience. It’s one of the most real, genuine experience you get to have as human. Supporting them through the birth process and celebrating their baby never gets old. ”
Brown was born and raised in Sequim. Her grandmother’s family moved from Nebraska to the Olympic Peninsula over 100 years ago. Growing up, she was enamored by babies. Still, there was no history of nurses in her family and she never envisioned herself becoming a nurse one day.
The exposure to a few local midwives changed that. Today, she can’t imagine herself being anywhere else.
“OB is my home,” Brown says. “To be able to connect with people on an intimate level is the most rewarding part of my job.”
After graduating from Sequim High School, Brown spent a year studying art at Seattle Pacific University. But ultimately, she was drawn back to her hometown. She returned to the Olympic Peninsula, joining OMC as a childbirth educator in 1994 and graduating from Peninsula College’s nursing program in 1995.
Faced again with the possibility of beginning her nursing career in Seattle where the hospitals are bigger and the opportunities more varied, she again chose Sequim. Brown began working at the Peninsula Women’s Clinic with Dr. Robert Palmer and Lyell Fox, CNM.
“It was a really conscious decision to stay in this small town,” Brown said.
At the same time, she also worked with the Clallam County Health Department, doing home visits with new moms and babies, as well as with the First Step Family Support Center, while pursuing opportunities to join OMC’s obstetrics unit.
“I remember going to the Chief Nursing Officer, Joyce Cardinal,” Brown recalls. “And I just said, ‘What do I have to do to get hired into obstetrics here? I plan on living here for the rest of my life, and I want to help the people on the Peninsula have babies until I retire.’ And the next week, I was hired into OB.”
Brown’s first role with the obstetrics unit was in New Family Services, which, at the time, was a new department. She made home visits as a lactation consultant and nurse.
“I wanted to live and work and serve on the Olympic Peninsula,” Brown said. “That’s just something that’s always been at my core. I’m really grateful for my opportunities at OMC. It really is special. It’s really means something to me.”
OB is my home. To be able to connect with people on an intimate level is the most rewarding part of my job. - Lynette Brown, RN
Eight years later, she was working on the floor of the obstetrics department and has been there ever since.
“Birth has never lost its magic,” Brown says. “It’s still a miracle every single time. I remain awestruck by the power of birth after all these years.”
The connection to the community is part of what makes her work so special to her. The new parents she works with today at OMC are the children of the once-young parents she worked with 20 years ago.
“Some of these women that I did home visits with in public health, they’re coming in as the grandmother and I’m taking care of their little baby having a baby,” Brown said. “Throughout the years, the fact that I’ve been had the opportunityto serve at OMC and in the same community, gives me a lot of buy-in. They are familiar with me. Hopefully, I will get into yet another generation of babies before I retire.”
Brown radiates joy when talking about newborns and families. It’s clear that she has found, in the obstetrics unit at Olympic Medical Center, her calling.
“It’s one of my purposes in life,” Brown said. “That’s why I just feel so lucky that not only am I able to do it, but that it’s here in this small town where there’s generations of connection and investment. It’s just the most meaningful and rewarding job ever.”