If you have had surgery in Mobile, chances are that one of the last things you saw before the anesthesia took effect was a member of the Bruns family.
“We always joke that, if nothing else, at least you can sleep at our house,” said Cindy Bruns, assistant to the vice president for advancement at the University of Mobile.
Cindy’s family includes five nurse anesthetists, each of whom attended the University of Mobile where they began their career.
Cindy’s husband, John Bruns ’78, started the legacy. Their children, Alex Bruns ‘00, Johnathan Bruns ‘02, and Maryann Bruns Dean ’04 followed their father’s footsteps. Each graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
Their daughter-in-law, Amanda Rouse Bruns ’03, met Johnathan at the University of Mobile while both were in the nursing program.
John wasn’t expecting to start a family tradition when he enrolled at then-Mobile College. He had earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from The Citadel in 1972, then he and Cindy married. After four years serving in the United States Army, John decided to pursue a career in health care and the couple moved to Mobile where Cindy had family.
John completed the associate degree in nursing program, becoming a registered nurse. That education provided him the foundation to pursue additional training as a nurse anesthetist from The School of Anesthesia for Nurses at the University of South Alabama Medical Center.
The University of Mobile’s Christian environment and quality academic program set the stage for the family legacy.
“It is a great honor for us to have graduated from such a highly regarded institution as the University of Mobile,” John said. He said many professors who taught him in 1976, including the late Dr. Rosemary Adams, were teaching his children as they began the nursing program.
“We all received a great education from caring professors that made a difference in our lives,” John said.
When oldest son Alex graduated with a B.S.N. in 2000, Cindy took a position in the Admissions Office. From working with students enrolling, watching her own children go through college, and now helping the university stay connected with alumni and donors, she is keenly aware of the value of a University of Mobile education.
“Knowing the foundation of Christian values and principles that have always been a part of this school, and the fact they reflect the values of our family, brings me great pride and satisfaction,” Cindy said. “I know how my children were raised, and I wanted them to be in a place where they would be challenged to grow academically and spiritually. I knew that UMobile was the place for them to experience that.”
The experience paid off.
“We all graduated from UMobile and work in the same field,” said Alex. “The problem comes when the hospital doesn’t know which Bruns to call in at 2 a.m. Yes, it happens all the time.
“It must be in our blood,” he continued. “While growing up with my dad in this profession, I had an idea of what to expect. I knew this career would be challenging and also rewarding to know you are always helping people.”
“I think my road to working in healthcare started as a young boy, I wanted to do what my dad did,” Johnathan said. “As I started college and it was time for me to begin making career decisions, I was given a great piece of advice from my dad: seek employment in a hospitaI to determine if this area of health care is something you would enjoy. I began my career as an orderly and the rest is history. “
Each family member – and daughter-in-law Amanda — attended the University of Mobile specifically to kick-start their careers in healthcare and enable them to earn further degrees in nurse anesthesia.
“I felt I would be attending a university that cared about its students and I would not be only a number,” said Johnathan. “I was right. I’m still in contact with several of my nursing instructors.”
Amanda said she has opportunities to work with her husband, father-in-law, brother-in-law and sister-in-law as anesthetists.
“I do enjoy working with all of them. I learned a lot from my father-in-law. It was very comforting to have someone you trusted, with as much experience as he has, readily available as a resource,” Amanda said.
Maryann added, “I am the baby of the group, so I have been able to work with each of my family members as I was completing my clinical rotation for certified registered nurse anesthesia school. I enjoyed working with everyone, but especially with my dad when I was on my open-heart rotation. He taught me so much and it’s nice for your daddy to have your back.”
With the help of the University of Mobile, the Bruns family comforts patients emotionally and spiritually while also responding to their physical needs.
“The caring attitudes of many of my instructors at UMobile have had a great impact in the way I have taken care of my patients and their families throughout my career thus far,” said Maryann.
“I started off working in the cardiac intensive care unit,” Maryann continued. “A caring touch, voice, and attitude are what these very sick patients and visiting families need. Mrs. Mattie Easter and Mrs. Diane Carithers were amazing examples of that. They each cared for their students and wanted them to do their best, but also went above and beyond for their patients giving them extra special attention and setting an example for us to follow.”
Alex said the encouragement he received from faculty was a vital part of his success.
“My favorite memory is of Mrs. Mattie Easter, assistant professor of nursing and coordinator of nursing admissions. She was my advisor from the beginning of my career at UMobile and has since become a good friend of my mother and whole family. She is a caring and loving part of the nursing program,” Alex said.
Johnathan agreed that the compassion and caring of faculty in the School of Nursing set a lasting example for students.
“Working in the healthcare field and especially surgery, I am in contact with people who are experiencing very stressful situations,” Johnathan said. “I have a chance to make this experience a little better. I try to do anything to help the patient and family. It may be making them laugh or just taking a few extra minutes to listen to them. I feel making each patient’s day a little brighter can help make a difference.”
Maryann said there is a larger purpose at work in her family’s calling.
“I feel that God has placed us all in the healthcare field for a reason, and I am honored He chose this path for me and our family,” concluded Maryann.