Cassie Bronson Helps New Moms Treat Substance Use Disorders

Women's History Month | 03/16/2021

The women in our Tillman Scholars community make an impact every day through their commitment to service and lifelong leadership. Throughout March, we will celebrate these remarkable women by sharing their stories and achievements. Today we begin with 2020 Tillman Scholar Cassie Bronson.

Being a Tillman Scholar has allowed Bronson to grow both academically and personally. She is thankful to have a community that provides a platform where she is able to network with people who are equally focused on meaningful work that provides service beyond self.

Bronson, who is currently pursuing a doctorate at Georgetown University, commissioned  in the U.S. Navy’s nursing corps directly after her nursing school graduation. She was particularly drawn to the vast number of ways nurses could help others — spanning from emotional, psychological and physical care. Prior to being selected as a Tillmans Scholar, Bronson spent more than 16 years working in nursing,  her earliest hands-on experience coming while volunteering in the pediatrics unit at her local hospital during her sophomore year in high school.

“What drew me to the field the most was the diverse ways in which nurses could be assets,” Bronson said. “Whether it be helping people facing health crises both domestically and abroad, to tending to a wide range of patients spanning from babies to seniors, to finding new practices in education, business, administration, and government, I liked how nursing seemed to fall under so many umbrellas.”

Since leaving the Navy in 2011, Bronson has been an active scholar, submitting the first draft of her thesis last semester. Her research  focuses on universal drug testing during labor and delivery to increase identification of newborns at risk of substance withdrawal. The long term goal is to eliminate provider bias relating to which mothers should be tested.

Personal experience also played a key role in Bronson gravitating toward women’s health.  Two months after her wedding in June 2011, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer and specialists told her she needed a hysterectomy. Being well-versed in medical procedures from her service, Bronson opted for a trachelectomy instead, which is administered at only a finite number of facilities across the country. Her diagnosis met the surgery’s qualifications and the operation was a complete success; since August 2011, Cassie has been cancer-free.

“The combination of having both my children born from high-risk pregnancies showed me how I could use my clinical nursing skills to help women undergoing similar scenarios, especially after my cancer diagnosis and remission,” Bronson said.

Working on her doctoral research now, Bronson envisions using her natural skills as an empath as a way to show fellow providers how to adopt the philosophy of cura personalis, or “care for the whole person” when treating patients. She finds this form of care helps prevent retraumatization, stigma and bias, which in turn promotes patient empowerment, resulting in more comprehensive care plans and fulfilling recoveries.