Faculty Focus: Marianne Brennan

Marianne “Mickey” Brennan is the faculty program director for Excelsior College’s associate degree in nursing program—a position she started in November 2018. In her tenure with the College, she has used her extensive nursing experience and approachable personality to help students navigate the associate degree in nursing program and prepare for the Clinical Performance in Nursing Examination.

Prior to joining Excelsior College, Brennan spent 20 years as a director in Perioperative Services at Saratoga Hospital and Ellis Hospital. She began her career as an LPN working as a surgical technician, where her love of working in the OR began. Brennan always wanted to be a nurse, especially one who works with patients in vulnerable states like being seriously ill or under anesthesia. “I thought I could make a difference…I chose my specialty because I could make a difference when patients couldn’t advocate for themselves,” she says.

Brennan applies her nursing experience and knowledge to her role as a faculty program director, a full-time faculty position. She teaches NUR 213 Health Differences Across the Lifespan III, a required course in the associate degree program. In this course, students study immune function, infection, perioperative nursing and other tissue trauma, musculoskeletal disorders, and neurological assessment. “I focus on the difference nurses can make for a patient and how their eventual role as an RN matters to the human beings we care for,” says Brennan, who earned her associate degree in nursing from Excelsior College in 1991. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in community and human services from Empire State College and began pursuing her graduate degree at the Sage Colleges. She returned to Excelsior College to complete a master’s degree in nursing in 2013.

Brennan says for students to succeed, it’s important they are motivated and have a desire to learn. She says having a drive to do what it takes is important in reaching educational and career goals. Sometimes that also means learning to develop good time management skills. “Work smarter, not harder,” she says, referring to the technological support students have access to. She also adds that students should remember to ask for help when they need it. “The faculty are here to support the students! We want the students to be successful, and support them in all ways we can,” she says.

If you want to be a nurse, notes Brennan, you have to find what’s right for you and what fits your lifestyle. You’ll know it is what you’re meant to do, she says, because being a nurse is part of your personality. “It’s your identity; it’s who you are…I can’t imagine being or doing anything else…I wasn’t meant to do anything else,” says Brennan.

The best part about teaching for Excelsior, says Brennan, is the students. But when she’s not interacting with Excelsior nursing students, she can be found walking in a state park, doing yoga, attending one of her granddaughter’s basketball games, or working part-time at Ellis Hospital in Schenectady, New York.

More from Marianne Brennan

Best podcast, book, or magazine related to your area of expertise: “I rely on AORN (Association of peri-Operative Registered Nurses) Guidelines for Perioperative Nursing Practice; ASPAN (American Society of PeriAnesthesia Nursing); SGNA (Society for Gastroenterology Nursing) guidelines; also, the ANA Scope and Standards of Practice and the ANA Guide to Nursing’s Social Policy Statement as essential documents for professional nursing in my area of expertise.”

Best piece of advice you’ve received related to your area of expertise: “Figure out where your passion is and follow that lead…. also, to engage adult learners with a collaborative learning environment and remove barriers to learning. I try to encourage them with motivation and enthusiasm! And to follow their heart when pursuing their goals.”

On job hunting: When you’re hunting for that nursing dream job, Brennan says, you should be well-prepared. She says to have your resume handy, dress professionally, practice routine questions, and remember to smile during interviews.