People of The U: Lauren Burch
Published on Monday, May 2, 2022
By: Annie Oeth, email@example.com
Just when Lauren Burch was completing a degree in nursing at UMMC, she was faced with a challenge of another kind.
Now a nurse on the fourth floor of the Batson Tower at Children’s of Mississippi, Burch was in the home stretch of the Accelerated BSN program when she heard the word “cancer” on the other end of the phone.
“Two weeks into my last semester of nursing school, I received the call that I was diagnosed with stage 2B triple negative breast cancer,” she said.
Leaving the School of Nursing was out of the question, she said. “I met with my faculty, and we came up with a game plan to be able to do chemotherapy and still graduate on time.”
Burch finished that BSN, along with eight rounds of chemotherapy and a double mastectomy, to start her nursing career as an RN caring for patients in the state’s only children’s hospital.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in biomedical science from Mississippi College in 2018, Burch went to work as a pharmacy technician at Children’s of Mississippi before deciding to pursue a nursing degree.
“As I was looking around for programs, I realized UMMC has the Accelerated BSN program,” she said, “and I was so excited to learn that it was only a year. I started the program in January 2021 and loved my classmates and my instructors. I had no idea how much they would come to be like a second family.”
While working toward her BSN and fighting cancer, Burch was continuing to work as a pharmacy technician on the weekends and after school, said pharmacy supervisor Lindsey Lepard, who nominated Burch for the People of The U honor.
“She is resilient and driven,” Lepard said, “and will be a wonderful, caring nurse. Lauren is a complete joy to be around, and everyone loves her.”
Burch’s clinical faculty coordinator, Marlie Farrar, agrees.
“Lauren is always positive and upbeat, and her cancer diagnosis only showcased this bright attitude,” Farrar said. “She never missed a beat. She was always present in class, simulations, labs and clinical experiences, regardless of how she may have felt after treatment. She even did her clinical on the pediatric oncology floor while going through chemotherapy just like her patients did. Her classmates and faculty respected her and would go to encourage her but leave those conversations encouraged by her.”
Having beaten cancer, Burch is now navigating the changes from pharmacy to nursing.
“I have gone from making and delivering the medications to administering the medications,” she said. “The most challenging part of nursing so far has been just learning how to be the best nurse I can be for my patients, but my team on 4C has been so helpful and encouraging in that way. It was a big change, but I have loved being able to care for the kids and their families on 4C.”