Makenzi Currie’s focus was clear in her high school days in Big Rapids. Athletics were on the horizon, along with studying nursing. But she didn’t expect to be doing those things at Ferris State University.
“I have lived in Big Rapids my entire life and never expected I would continue my education here,” Currie said. “As an athlete, I had to first decide on a sport to focus on, and I had a passion for softball. The Division I offer, to walk on at the University of Michigan, was my ultimate athletic dream, but it would not accommodate my desire to study nursing.”
Currie made her intentions known and quickly found they could be met by being a Nursing student and Bulldog on the diamond in Big Rapids.
“Everything worked out at Ferris. I got athletic and academic scholarships, which easily turned out to be my best opportunity,” Currie said. “My athletic experience went great, and I got so much support from my coach, Keri Becker. There was never any conflict based on my academics. Things worked out with my schedule really worked very well.”
Currie graduated in 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and took her first assignment with the Emergency Room of what was Spectrum-Butterworth Hospital on Grand Rapids’ “Medical Mile.”
“I entered into nursing with the philosophy that anywhere, anytime and anyplace, I am capable of responding,” Currie said. “I believe that is a nurse’s true calling.”
Working for a Level-One Trauma Center had benefits for a young nurse, Currie said.
“This was really the best possible outcome for me, as I received great training and added to my skills as a responder,” Currie said. “That included certificates as a Trauma Nurse-Critical Care, an Emergency Nurse-Pediatric Care and Advanced Care-Life Support.”
Living in Big Rapids and serving in Grand Rapids did not mesh with plans to start a family, so Currie moved from that active service scene to a new chapter in her career.
“I was adding shifts at Spectrum Health-Big Rapids Hospital, as a new mother that really gave me the ability to shorten my commute, work at a comfortable pace and make gains as a professional,” Currie said.
An experience with a patient sparked a move to the Susan P. Wheatlake Regional Cancer Center.
“I had always wanted to work in oncology,” Currie said. “I knew Stuart Hamel, the first person I recall whose passing in 2001 affected me. I didn’t see him as sick, until we knew he had cancer, and he died at the age of 41, before I was even an adolescent. I never forgot that.”
Currie worked with patients being treated at the regional center.
“The hours were great as we were building our family, but it is a difficult job,” Currie said. “It really pulls on your heartstrings, seeing community members coming in for their care.”
The professional journey continued as Currie took a position with Big Rapids Interventional Radiology, another Spectrum Health offering at the hospital.
“It really brought me to recall the pace of emergency room work and all the emphasis that is part of oncology care,” Currie said. “While the hours suited our family’s needs, I found the controlled chaos of interventional radiology really appealing, professionally. Some of the cancer patients I had met at the Wheatlake Center were there to work with us, again.”
Currie’s final full-time job was as the School Nurse for the Big Rapids Public Schools.
“Considering where I was in terms of raising a family, the hours were a small concern, so I did not apply the first time the position was available,” Currie said. “That wait paid off, as the next time it opened, I applied. I was looking forward to the joys of hearing students’ stories.”
She took that job near the end of February 2020, a couple of weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic, and her job went into the virtual realm to serve that campus community.
“I really found that difficult since I was home with my two youngest sons, in a role that was demanding in terms of providing the best possible service to the students,” Currie said. “I stuck with it for a while but decided it was an opportunity best suited for another nurse to assume.”
Currie has found great reward in following her passion in service to those in need, but also has a mind to help future nurses gain from her philosophy and experiences.
“I started the Master of Science in Nursing program a matter of days after one of my sons was born, wanting to become a professor,” Currie said. “I would have enjoyed focusing my passion on helping students learn and grow in nursing. Throughout my experiences in the field, I was always told the Ferris nursing alumnus would be an employer’s choice because we were ‘floor-ready,’ with practical training and encouraged to exercise critical thinking skills. We, as graduates are charged with caring for and thinking outside the box, as you respond to each patient and their needs.”
With four children to raise, Currie is happy at home now, near Big Rapids, but her part-time service as a nurse continued.
“I was doing per diem work for Spectrum, which has now become Corewell Health,” Currie said. “At first, my calls were to Big Rapids, Reed City and Evart patients, but the area of service grew.”
Makenzi said parenting is her top priority at this time.
“My husband and I are of the philosophy that ‘If you want to change the world, it starts in your home,’” Currie said. “The regional nature of my last professional role just didn’t mesh with my obligations to my growing children, so I decided to stay home for now. I left with good graces and will keep an eye on opportunities to use my skills and serve my family. Staying home is a hard job, but the rewards are always there to see and enjoy.”