By Corbin Smith
A new year always means new faces around campus and, in our case, the Kimball Tower. Today we want to introduce and welcome one of the new smiling faces that have come into our BYU Nursing family this year: assistant professor Dr. Marie Prothero!
Fresh off of defending her PhD dissertation at the University of Utah this April, Dr. Prothero is excited to finally fulfill a personal goal she had set for herself many years ago when she was just starting out as a nurse. She finally became a BYU Nursing professor. As a special way to welcome Dr. Prothero to BYU in her new capacity as a faculty member, let us tell you how she got here.
Dr. Prothero started her college experience at Rick’s College as an aspiring microbiologist, not a nurse. “In Rexburg I did some work at the hospital,” Dr. Prothero says, “And they put me in the lab where the microbiologists normally hung out. When I was there, honestly, I thought the lab was really stinky and it really wasn’t that fun, so I quickly went to the coordinator and asked to be moved somewhere else.” The BYU Nursing program is very grateful her coordinator recommended she go be with the nurses, which she did. “I left Idaho that semester knowing two things: first, Idaho is too cold. Second, I wanted to be a nurse,” Dr. Prothero says, laughing.
After taking a semester off and then spending some time at BYU, she studied to become an LPN at UVU and then went even farther to receive her associate degree in Nursing from Weber State University.
With her degree in hand, she took her first nursing job in the ICU. She worked hard for four years in the ICU and was recommended by a co-worker to apply to be the manager of the ICU she worked at. After getting the job, she knew that she would need a bachelor’s degree to be completely prepared for her new responsibilities. Like she always does, she took the new challenge of having kids, being a wife, going to school and working head on and graduated from the University of Phoenix with her degree.
Dr. Prothero is quick to accredit a lot of her success to her husband, Brady, who has supported her as she dove even deeper into her education as time went on. After finishing her bachelor’s degree, one of her friends suggested she go back to BYU and get a master’s in nursing. “I really wasn’t sure if it was something our family could do back then,” Dr. Prothero shares, “But my husband never let me back down. He would tell me ‘You should do it! You should do it!’ until I finally decided to come back to BYU.”
Dr. Prothero absolutely loved her time back at BYU. In fact, she would tell people that one day she was going to teach at BYU. In the late 90s she got her chance, working as an adjunct faculty for the BYU Nursing program for one semester, but that semester was enough to light the fire inside her. She was going to be back, but for good this time.
The last dean of BYU Nursing was Dr. Patricia Ravert, and she was very good friends with Dr. Prothero after their time working together. The two friends had a serious conversation about the possibility of Dr. Prothero joining full-time faculty in the future. Dr. Prothero had gone back to working as a hospital administrator, but felt like something was missing from her life. She missed completely loving what she did each day. She missed being a nurse. Dean Ravert told her she needed to get a PhD.
So that is exactly what she did. Once again receiving the full support from her husband and her children, she quit her job as a hospital administrator and began her doctorate program at the University of Utah with the intention of finishing and coming back to BYU as a professor.
Her PhD program led her to interesting opportunities as well. During her program she was offered a position to work as the chief nursing officer at Shriners Hospitals for Children in Salt Lake City. “They were so supportive of me as a studied for my PhD and we were able to do some fantastic things to help them with their nursing care and pediatric patients,” Dr. Prothero says.
She was finally able to graduate from her PhD program in April and right away began the process of applying to be a faculty for the nursing program. After a long, but fulfilling process she was accepted and she reached her goal.
When asked what kind of advice she could give to students based off of her nursing experience she says, “Keep every door open. For me, I have been in multiple systems and capacities, all of which have been super rewarding. Some things I were not prepared for, but I jumped all in, worked hard, learned a lot and was really successful! If you can learn to be flexible, you can really become anything you want. That is what makes nursing so special.” Don’t close doors because initially things look boring, use every experience and opportunity to grow, and you will retire one day feeling good about what you were able to accomplish.
Today Dr. Prothero loves to travel (COVID-19 permitting, of course), knit and cook. She has even gotten into hunting a little bit, going every once in a while with her husband. She has been married to the love of her life, Brady for 37 years now and they have two kids, Kieren and Steve. They have six beautiful grandkids.