Mother and Daughter Make Nursing a Family Affair

ashley brazil

For Lori Armbruster, MSN, RN, the roles of nurse and mother have often intertwined, shaping each other along the way.

As an instructor at Chamberlain College of Nursing’s St. Louis campus, Armbruster would often lead students in their pediatric clinical experiences at a local hospital.

“I could feel for the parents,” said the mother of four. “I would think about how I would want someone to treat me if my child was in the hospital.”

Her 23 years as a surgical nurse at Shriners Hospital for Children – St. Louis have also influenced her actions at home.

“It’s made me slightly overprotective as a mom, maybe keep a closer rein. I’ve seen what can happen,” Lori admitted.

That sense of protectiveness came into play when it came time to offer her daughter, Ashley, some career advice.

“I know how hard nursing is – how hard school is and how hard the work can be and how you don’t get all your weekends off. I didn’t want her to do something she didn’t want to do, just to have a job,” explained Lori.

Burnout is always a real possibility, she cautioned, especially if you become a nurse without having your whole heart in it.

When Ashley went off to college, she had no intention of following in her mother’s footsteps. Midway through the first semester, however, it became clear that nursing was, in fact, her calling. She transferred to a community college, took liberal arts and sciences courses, and then applied to the BSN program at Chamberlain.

There, Ashley said, “I found the passion I was looking for.”

Without a doubt, the highlight of Ashley’s six semesters at Chamberlain was the International Nursing Service Project trip to Brazil in June 2012 – an experience she describes as “amazing” and “life-changing.”

Mom Lori Armbruster at Deaconess College of Nursing in the early 1980s pictured to the left.

Around the same time, Lori’s own career path also led her to Chamberlain. In some ways, it was like coming home again. She had earned her diploma from Deaconess College of Nursing (the forerunner to Chamberlain College of Nursing) in 1985. At that time, the nursing school was co-located with Deaconess Hospital. Lori lived in the dorms and began her career as a student nurse and, later, RN at Deaconess Hospital.

Later in her career, while working at Shriners and pursuing an online MSN degree, Lori needed a preceptor. She had been impressed with the Chamberlain student nurses she had seen at the hospital and approached their clinical instructor, Chamberlain professor Davida Murphy-Smith.

After her practicum, Lori was hired as an adjunct at Chamberlain. She became a full-time instructor in October 2011 and is currently pursuing a graduate certificate in nursing informatics at Chamberlain.

Ashley finished her studies at Chamberlain in April and will be officially graduating in June. She is currently preparing for the NCLEX and has been offered a job in the ER of a local hospital.

Despite their shared profession, Lori will still be Ashley’s mom, with all that the title implies.

“As a mom, I worry about her,” said Lori. “Being a new nurse is stressful, and she’ll need to find her way. But the education she received at Chamberlain is really, really strong, so I know that when she goes out there, she’ll be OK.”

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