Davenport Nursing – it’s all in the family

Pictured left to right: Dawn Overbeek, Veronica Overbeek, Elizabeth Overbeek-Buresh and Melinda Overbeek-Conklin.

Sometimes sisters don’t like to be followed by younger ones, but in the case of the Overbeek family, it made good sense. It also meant Davenport University had an Overbeek in the nursing program from 2012 to 2020, and Holland Hospital has a trio of well-educated, skilled nurses caring for its patients.

The Davenport nursing tradition for the three sisters began with Elizabeth Overbeek Buresh, followed by Veronica Overbeek and then Melinda Overbeek Conklin. And it is topped off with their mother, Dawn Overbeek, also a nurse at Holland Hospital, serving as a leadership preceptor for nursing students. She has recommended many Davenport students to be hired full-time because of the education and experience they bring.

“We see quality nurses coming out of the Davenport program,” said Dawn. “When I am training nurses, I see the critical thinking skills of the Davenport students. That’s a huge reason they can hit the ground running. I’m thankful that my daughters received such a great education at DU.”

Elizabeth is the second oldest sister in the family of four daughters and the first to enroll in the nursing program. She has a long list of what attracted her to Davenport and the Lettinga Grand Rapids Campus.

“I really liked the campus with its new and nice housing, but the huge draw was being accepted into the nursing program right from high school,” said Elizabeth. “Then I got the Ford scholarship.”

Elizabeth received the full-ride Gerald R. Ford Memorial Scholarship. The late president briefly taught and coached at Davenport. While that scholarship certainly eased the financial strain of paying for college, the real payoff for Elizabeth was the three years of clinical practice that sets Davenport apart.

“Doing three years of clinicals was huge for me,” said Elizabeth. “I also got an extended clinical in the operating room, which is what I am doing now. I really liked that, and I wouldn’t have gotten that experience at other schools.”

Veronica carefully watched her older sister Elizabeth’s experience at Davenport, and off she went to become a Panther. They are sisters on similar but not identical paths. To help with expenses and to expand her social experience on campus, Veronica became an RA, something she could do even with the rigors of the nursing program.

“I tried to get plugged in right away, so I could get that RA position, which took care of my room and board,” said Veronica. “It was good and connected me to bigger groups of people. It’s a nice-sized campus, and I could wake up, and it literally would take me five minutes to walk anywhere on campus. I was putting on events, getting out and meeting new people.”

Veronica said the size of Davenport also made class sizes smaller, which allowed faculty to work individually with students who go through in a close cohort. She echoed Elizabeth’s opinion of the university’s more extensive clinical experience.

“Starting clinicals earlier in our college career than other universities was very helpful,” Veronica said. “I did an externship summer program at Holland Hospital, where I worked one-on-one with a nurse. The externship, combined with my leadership clinicals my senior year, got me a job when I graduated.”

She is currently a charge nurse on the spine and orthopedic floor at Holland Hospital. Watching all of this was the youngest of the three sisters – Melinda. She said her choice to go to Davenport and pursue nursing was because she saw how much her sisters had enjoyed the experiences they had.

“I also got the Presidential Scholarship, which made Davenport a really smart financial decision as well,” Melinda said. “And I got into the nursing program from high school. Those were two big factors for me.”

Her two older sisters had prepared Melinda well for life at Davenport, but nobody could prepare for a global pandemic. COVID interrupted her senior year, but with Davenport’s help, it did not interrupt her progress.

“I went to maybe two clinical shifts, and then everything was shut down and turned online,” Melinda said. “I was sad that I didn’t get my leadership clinical my last year, but I had done an externship the summer before at Holland Hospital, which prepared me to get my nursing job there.” 

Melinda now works in the operating room at Holland Hospital. She was fortunate that she had worked as a nursing tech the entire time she was in nursing school. 

The self-help guru Robin Sharma said, “You know you’re winning when you see you’re being copied.” There are a lot of winners in this family nursing tale: Davenport University, with three nursing alumni, Holland Hospital, with four Overbeek nurses, and the Overbeek family, each with individual success stories to share.

Veronica is also the assistant coach of Davenport’s women’s rugby team. Click here to read her story.

Learn more about the nursing programs at Davenport University.

Davenport offers a 100% employment guarantee for a growing list of bachelor programs, including nursing. Learn more about the employment guarantee.




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