Bostrom is in training for the adventure of her life and that’s saying a lot. At 53, she has already spent much of her career working as a geologist on drill rigs — often the only woman in the field in an industry dominated by men.
Not long ago, while on a mission with her church to build a clean water well in Mexico, she felt a calling to take a different path — in medicine. She became an emergency medical technician (EMT) and went back to school to become a certified nursing assistant (CNA).
“God spoke to me and I listened,” says Bostrom. “I put my geology career aside to focus on where I was needed, and I feel fortunate to have the time, focus and passion to heed that call.”
Bostrom — currently a health care provider at Sharp Memorial Hospital — is strong, smart and knows what she wants. And what she wants now is to become a firefighter.
“In a field that is primarily comprised of 19-to-30-year-old men who grew up knowing that they wanted to be firemen, I stand out,” she says. “However, I knew that I could do this. I know what it’s like to work in a male-dominated industry with high physical demands in a dynamic environment, and I won’t stop until God tells me to stop.”
One of the oldest people to pursue a career in firefighting, Bostrom graduated from CalFire’s Wildland Academy at Southwestern College. She continues to hone her skills, increase strength and build endurance in anticipation of being hired by a local firefighting organization.
She credits the facilities and trainers at the Sewall Healthy Living Center for helping her prepare. “The equipment, experts and others training at Sewall are awesome. I feel at home there and really appreciate that Sharp makes it available for me and other employees,” she says.
Bostrom also believes the work she does as a CNA at Sharp is great preparation for serving as a firefighter. Both can be tough, physically challenging and incredibly rewarding.
“Both nursing and firefighting call for using our skills where a community most needs them,” she says. “I appreciate that the quality of care we provide at Sharp aligns with what I try to do every day, and will do as a firefighter. It’s all about serving those in need and giving back to my community.”
Bostrom believes that in any endeavor, you should strive to be physically, mentally, spiritually, morally and ethically strong. She encourages others looking to make a change, answer a call or serve those in need to make an honest assessment of their strengths and weaknesses, as well as a solid commitment to work on all of these areas so that they are ready to act when called.
“Take a daily conscious step toward your goal,” she says. “It doesn’t happen overnight, but it can happen with a commitment to follow your calling and a willingness to give up control over what the outcome will be. You are unique and your beautiful gifts are needed.”
For the news media: To talk with Michelle Bostrom about becoming a firefighter at 53 for an upcoming story, contact Erica Carlson, senior public relations specialist, at firstname.lastname@example.org.