It’s Tonya Breymier’s self-professed mission to pioneer improvements in nursing education.
Her efforts can be visualized through a three-word mantra passed on in the master’s programs that she has started and grown: Pride. Passion. Perseverance.
She tells the graduate students that the Three Ps are imperative to becoming successful leaders in nursing, in leaving lasting imprints on the field.
“It’s tough (the field and the program),” she said. “It should be tough because of the roles and responsibilities we have.”
Breymier has been highly successful in helping students – and Indiana University East – reach new heights in nursing, her students and fellow staff members agree.
“Her passion for lifelong learning and student development was the inspiration and reason for my application into the program,” writes Catherine Miller, who was one of the first students to receive a Master of Science in Nursing at IU East – a program shepherded by Breymier. “During graduate school, her guidance as a mentor with the methods of simulation were transformational.”
“In my opinion, the biggest attribute of Dr. Breymier is her futuristic view for the School of Nursing and Health Sciences,” writes IU East Lecturer Amanda J. Carmack. ”She is the motor that keeps us moving to the future. She has the ability to make others feel that anything is possible, that all they have to do is take the leap.”
“(Her) service is outcome driven, of outstanding quality and has been sustained for a significant amount of time,” writes Karen Clark, Dean of the School of Nursing and Health Sciences.
Those statements were all included in letters nominating Breymier for the prestigious IU School of Nursing Elizabeth Lion University Service Award. She was given the statewide honor during a ceremony on April 27.
The award recognizes a full-time faculty on any IU campus for exceptional service to the department, program, campus or university.
Breymier said she was surprised and deeply honored. “It was exciting,” said the lifelong resident of Darke County, Ohio, who has been teaching for 11 years at IU East. “It was a big week for me.”
That it was. The next day, she was presented with the IU East Distinguished Faculty Service Award during an on-campus ceremony. The award recognizes distinguished service—campus, community or professional, either one-time or sustained, by a full-time faculty member above and beyond the standard expectations of any compensation or release time provided for the service.
Breymier has led IU East’s efforts to start and grow advanced nursing programs, which are in high demand across the nation.
She pioneered the graduate program, which first offered a master’s in education and administration and now offers a Family Nurse Practitioner program. Simply put, Breymier explains, “They meet the needs of the students and the community.”
In the near future, she and IU East are are looking to add a master’s track in Clinical Nurse Leader. She also sees a need for a master’s program in the rapidly growing area of palliative care (end of life).
In the community realm, she leads collaborative efforts with Reid Health. Students in the nurse practitioner program do clinical work with Reid Physicians. They are assigned to work one-on-one with a family practice physician or nurse practitioner in the real-life office setting.
She doesn’t just perform community roles in Richmond. She also often visits cohort IU East sites in New Castle, Lawrenceburg, Madison and Dayton, Ohio (Good Samaritan). She serves on a multitude of university committees and also with the Wayne Health Foundation and the Cancer Association for Darke County.
Because she is so busy in multiple roles, she enjoys wind-down and wind-up time in the car as she makes her 64-mile round-trip commutes from her home on a fourth-generation farm north of Union City. “I can’t wait to get there,” she said about driving to IU East.
She tries “to de-escalate and leave work at work” as she returns home.
Her husband, Darrell, and son, Rob, work the grain farm. Her daughter, Brittany, is a nurse who is working on her master’s at IU East.
Breymier believes her biggest personal strength is perseverance.
“I work at something until the goals have been accomplished and then I keep going to the next job. I am constantly trying to do it better,” Breymier said.
She believes that her role with students doesn’t end with the classroom. “I look at mentoring more as being a lifelong journey,” she said.
She takes great pride in helping guide students to do special things, “to go out and not accept status quo.”
IU East students are finding fast success with nursing graduate degrees.
For example, one will receive her graduate degree soon and already has accepted a position to develop and initiate a pain center, Breymier said.
Carmack says Breymier’s teaching and mentoring have been fundamental in her career growth.
“(She) encouraged me to pursue my goals to become an educator, to earn a doctorate and to take the Certified Nurse Educator Exam, all of which I have achieved because of her encouragement, none of which I would have attempted without her support,” Carmack said.