USF nurse follows family footsteps [Video]

For Brittany Hay, DNP, nursing runs in the family. The passion to serve is in her blood. It’s in her DNA.

Dr. Hay, instructor at the USF College of Nursing, is one of seven family members to dedicate her life to nursing.

Brittany Hay, DNP, instructor at USF College of Nursing.

“I come from a large family of nurses,” Dr. Hay said. “My grandfather, my father, my mother, my older sister, my twin brother and one of my aunts, are all nurses.”

(L to R). Breton Blair, twin brother, Kim Hanna, sister, Zarah Blair, mother, Ken Blair, father, and Dr. Brittany Hay.

Dr. Hay, who is one of five children, was born and raised in a small town in Pennsylvania. Since she was a child, she was surrounded by those who served – so, becoming a nurse was an obvious choice.

This journey started with Dr. Hay’s mother after she became a registered nurse through the Citizens General Hospital diploma program in 1962. Shortly after, her grandfather and father decided to change careers and go to nursing school. Then, the rest of the family members followed.

“My family had a calling to serve, and nursing was the vehicle that helped them get there,” Dr. Hay said. “My grandfather and parents saw a need in the community, and they became nurses to fulfill that need — and help people heal. It was a means to an end.”

Dr. Hay’s grandparents turned their farmhouse into a nursing home to provide health care services to older patients in their small community. Their nursing home is still open today.

Dr. Hay’s grandparents, Charlie and Helena Brown. 

“My siblings and I are proud of my grandparents and parents and what they’ve done for their community,” Dr. Hay said. “They have been our inspiration. That’s why we proudly followed into their footsteps.”

Dr. Hay’s twin brother is a nurse practitioner, and her older sister is an acute care nurse. They each have chosen different paths in the nursing field, but their passion to serve remains the same.

“Even though, we’ve moved to different states and are serving patients in various ways, we still practice the strong, compassionate nursing values, which our parents and grandparents instilled in us.”

Dr. Hay’s parents Ken and Zarah Blair in front of the family’s nursing home. They are both fellows in the American College of Health Care Administrators for their dedication to nursing and the patients they served.

For almost 30 years, Dr. Hay has continued to make her mark in the nursing field as a nurse and nurse practitioner — serving patients in diverse communities in Boston and rural areas of Florida.

Dr. Hay receiving her nursing pin during traditional pinning ceremony at Boston University in 1988.

“Becoming a nurse practitioner has been the honor of my life,” Dr. Hay said. “I find tremendous joy in providing care for patients in rural areas where health care is often out of reach.”

After decades of nursing practice, she decided to join USF in 2015 and teach nursing students. While teaching, she also completed her Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) in 2016 at the USF College of Nursing.

(L to R): USF College of Nursing’s instructors Marcia Johansson, DNP, Deborah Cantero, DNP, Dr. Hay and Rebecca Lutz, DNP, during their DNP commencement ceremony in Dec. 2016.

“I’m happy to pass on my passion for nursing to my students,” Dr. Hay said. “It’s been exciting to give them the knowledge and the tools in the areas of quality improvement, leadership, and role development to be successful in their own careers.”

Dr. Hay, who is married with two children, is also passing her passion for health care to her children. Her son is a pre-medical student at the University of Central of Florida with the goal to one day attend medical school.

“My mom inspired me to consider health care as a career,” said Jordan Hay, Dr. Hay’s son. “Seeing her improve patients’ lives every day, allowed me to think about those possibilities. I’m hoping that one day I will also join my mom, my grandparents, my aunt and uncle, and be a part of this amazing journey.”

Story and video by Vjollca Hysenlika, USF Health Communications and Marketing.
Most photos provided by Dr. Brittany Hay.