Answering the call to save lives
MU alumna faces the front line of COVID-19 in a local emergency room.
May 22, 2020
Taking care of medical patients is a lifelong passion for Brianne O’Sullivan.
As a child, the University of Missouri alumna had open heart surgery to repair a hole in her heart. Then, while O’Sullivan was in elementary school, her father was nearly killed after being thrown off of a horse on a family vacation in Colorado. He was airlifted to the nearest hospital.
“That day, the flight medic and nurse saved his life in that helicopter, so my dream job is to be a flight nurse because of what the flight team did for him,” she said. “The medical field has always piqued my interest.”
Before she reaches her dream job, the December 2018 graduate is now on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic working as a patient care technician (EMT-B) at MU Health Care’s Women’s and Children’s Hospital in the emergency department.
Facing a pandemic
At Mizzou, O’Sullivan majored in health sciences in the School of Health Professions. With many changes occurring in health care guidelines and procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic, she said it’s the lessons she’s learned at MU that carry on with her today during her shifts.
“I definitely think my experience at Mizzou allows me to see the bigger picture of things,” she said. “Whether it’s the smallest little bit like taking a patient’s blood pressure or their temperature, I realize I am part of the greater good here.”
She said keeping a positive attitude has also been key to helping her get through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“For anybody going through this pandemic, whether you lost your job or face financial insecurity, what’s really important during all of this is just keeping positive for your mental health.”
In addition to working in the ER, O’Sullivan is pursuing her bachelor of science in nursing. She said balancing work and school life is made easier with the positivity of the community, and her professors, classmates, friends and family.
“It’s been rewarding because a lot of people have been so appreciative and thankful,” O’Sullivan said. “The Columbia community has been so positive with everything that’s going on.”
Musical black and gold
While growing up in Columbia, O’Sullivan learned how to play the trumpet from former Marching Mizzou director Alexander Pickard in middle school.
Her connection with Marching Mizzou would continue in college as she spent four years in Marching Mizzou — three of which were spent leading the trumpet section. O’Sullivan also got engaged to a fellow Marching Mizzou member on Faurot Field during Mizzou’s 2018 homecoming football game. She now serves on the Marching Mizzou Alumni Band Board of Directors.
“I believe that the person I am today is because of my experience at Mizzou, and I’m so thankful for that,” O’Sullivan said. “My time at Mizzou was incredible. I would not change a thing.”