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Featured Student Profiles from the Direct-Entry Master of Science in Nursing

Adult-Gerontology Acute Care

Adult-Gerontology Primary Care

Dual Adult-Gerontology/Women's Health

Psychiatric/Mental Health Lifespan

Women's Health

Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Specialty

The demand for acute care nurse practitioners (NPs) is on the rise throughout the United States. The Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner specialty will prepares students to excel in this role.

Student in this track learn to provide comprehensive, patient-centered, high-quality care to young adults, adults, and seniors. The course of study emphasizes improving quality of life through comprehensive assessment and management of health and illness in the context of individuals, families, health care settings, and society.

Bryan Godduhn-Braaten, Adult Gerontology Acute Care NP track

 

Bryan Godduhn-Braaten '18

 

 

 

 

What inspired you to become a nurse practitioner, and in your specialty track?
Throughout my BA and MA programs in psychology, I always joked about wanting to go into nursing, but I never thought I had the mindset for it. When I was working in higher education prior to entering the DEN program, I was lucky enough to work with the CEO of a hospital in the town where I was living at the time. He recognized that I was not satisfied in my current career path and knew that I had always had an interest in working in healthcare. After he introduced me to different individuals at the hospital, I realized that I wanted to be a Nurse Practitioner because of the impact they have on patient outcomes.

What attracted you to the Direct-Entry Master of Science in Nursing program at the MGH Institute?
While I was researching different programs, the IHP really stood out because of its reputation for providing relevant and interesting clinical experiences for its students. Once I researched it further, I liked that they offered different NP tracks in both acute and primary care. Having such a wide-range of opportunities beyond graduation is very important, and I think the IHP provides that.

How have your clinical and community rotations impacted you, both as a future health professional and as a person?
When you are a student in the RN portion of this program, it can seem like a whirlwind of lectures, clinicals, and skills you need to learn prior to your NCLEX exam. Being able to go through these rotations and see the disparities patients face in our health care system really makes you want to do everything possible to ensure they are receiving the best care. Once you are in the NP portion, I think the awareness that you will be the one leading the care for patients is what really makes you step up to the challenges ahead.

Describe an experience at the Institute that has been particularly inspiring.
I don't think there is a specific experience that stands out as the most inspiring while studying at the IHP to me. It is more the combination of everything I've experienced since starting the program in the fall of 2015 that inspires me to be the best Nurse Practitioner I can be for my patients, my self, and for those who have supported me since I decided to go into nursing. Seeing the difficulties faced by patients, their families, and the various clinical situations changes you as a person and helps you to be thankful for the good things you have in your personal life. I've also found that being able to recognize the value of a patient's quality of life, and not always the quantity, is of the utmost importance for any provider.

What are your plans for after graduation?
I plan to continue working as a nurse while preparing for my boards. Once those are passed, I see myself either working in the hospitalist role or in outpatient oncology.

What’s your favorite part about studying in Boston?
Boston is the hub of medical care and provides numerous opportunities to have really interesting clinical rotations. For example, I just finished a rotation in Thoracic Oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and will be returning there for a second semester this spring. I never thought I'd have the opportunity to study somewhere like that, so it has been absolutely amazing.

Are you involved in any extracurricular activities?
Currently I am not involved in any extracurricular activities. Balancing a full-time RN position and school, as well as two clinical rotations, pretty much takes up the majority of my time.

What are your prior degrees?
BA, Psychology, Pace University, New York, NY
MA, Psychology, Columbia University, New York, NY

Where were you working before coming to the Institute?
Prior to the IHP, I was the assistant to the president at a college in New Hampshire.

Is there anything else that you'd like to contribute about your experience as a student at the MGH Institute?
I would just say that students need to prepare to give 110% of themselves if they want to be successful in this type of program. It isn't like getting a degree where you can wake up and go to class without preparing. The faculty have all been where we are now and they know how hard it is, but they also know that being dedicated to your studies prepares you for being an excellent provider. Also, even though three years seems like a long time, it will fly by and before you know it, you'll be sitting where I am on the verge of the final semester of school.

Adult-Gerontology Primary Care

With the U.S. geriatric population projected to double by 2030, there is a growing need for primary care nurse practitioners with expertise in addressing the complex care needs of seniors. The Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (NP) specialty prepares students for this opportunity.

Students in this track learn to: Provide primary care to geriatric patients as well as adolescents (ages 13+), young adults, and adults; and Improve quality of life through comprehensive assessment and management of health and illness in the context of individuals, families, health care settings, and society.

Mallory Hillard, DEN Adult-Gerontology Primary Care specialty

 

Mallory Hillard '18

 

 

 

 

What inspired you to become a nurse practitioner, and in your specialty track?
Community health, research, and primary care have always been a passion of mine. The Adult/Gero Primary Care track appealed to me because I feel that nurse practitioners play a vital role in providing primary care. NP training focuses greatly on treating patients holistically, preventing disease before it happens, managing and slowing progression when it does occur, and reducing unnecessary treatment and side effects, while also considering factors that may impact care, such as socioeconomic status or access to care. All of these components involve the use of evidence-based practice to ensure quality and effective care. In addition to using evidence-based practice to guide care, NPs may also engage in research that aims to advance the diagnosis, management, and treatment of disease, which is also important.

What attracted you to the Direct-Entry Master of Science in Nursing program at the MGH Institute?
The DEN program appealed to me for many reasons:

  1. Having theory classes simultaneously with clinical rotation allows the knowledge being taught in theory to be applied in the clinical setting, which facilitates learning.

  2. Knowledgeable, passionate, and experienced professors and clinical instructors.

  3. The IHP focuses on providing diverse, challenging, and rich learning opportunities for students, including clinical rotations in various health care settings, the opportunity to engage in extracurricular activities, and career building such as networking, board preparation, and resume building classes.

  4. The community (teachers, students, support staff) all seemed enthusiastic and supportive of student success, which makes school enjoyable and less strenuous.

  5. The opportunity to learn from classmates who come from various backgrounds and have diverse perspectives and experiences to share.

How have your clinical and community rotations impacted you, both as a future health professional and as a person?
My rotations and clinical experiences during my education at the IHP have not only shaped me as a future provider but as a person in general. Not only have I developed and advanced my clinical skills and knowledge base, but I have also gained a strong understanding of what it means to truly provide care for patients. I have learned the importance of establishing trust, being a source of support, and establishing a therapeutic relationship while also using self-reflection and assessment to better my practice. I am grateful for each and every patient experience I have had in my three years at the Institute. I am so appreciative of patients’ willingness to share their stories, experiences, and struggles with me. I can honestly say that I carry a piece of every patient story with me, and each piece has allowed me to build and strengthen my future practice and vision for the NP I strive to be.

Describe an experience at the Institute that has been particularly inspiring.
Perhaps one of the most inspiring experiences I have had during my time at the IHP has been working as a student clinician with the Crimson Care Collaborative. This is an evening clinic, held at an MGH community health center, staffed with attending physicians and several teams of student clinicians that work together to provide primary care for patients of Boston and surrounding communities. The patient populations I have worked with at the health center are incredibly resilient in the face of many challenges that span far beyond the medical setting but have tremendous impact on health and well-being. My time working with the Crimson Care Collaborative has solidified the importance of holistic care and how to seek out the necessary resources to help mitigate these challenges and help improve quality of life and well-being.

What are your plans for after graduation?
After graduation, I hope to remain in the Boston area and continue working in research, particularly diabetes research, as well as seeing patients clinically, either in a primary care setting or diabetes clinic.

What’s your favorite part about studying in Boston?
Studying in Boston is a great opportunity. It is the center of several major medical institutions as well as numerous community health centers and agencies that serve diverse populations throughout the surrounding communities of Boston and beyond. Being able to learn in this environment provides invaluable opportunities for students to gain knowledge and practice not only in regards to treating chronic and acute illness, but also providing care that is patient centered, culturally sensitive, and mindful of the various determinants of health that impact the communities we care for.

Are you involved in any extracurricular activities?

  • Crimson Care Collaborative
  • Student Leadership Committee – Center for Primary Care – Harvard Medical School

What are your prior degrees?
Bachelor of Science in Community Health, University of Massachusetts Lowell, 2011

Where were you working before coming to the Institute?
Prior to coming to the Institute, I was working as a clinical research coordinator at the MGH Diabetes Research Center. I started at the Diabetes Research Center upon graduating UMass Lowell in 2011 and continue to work there as a clinical research nurse while in school.

 

Dual Adult-Gerontology/Women's Health

The dual Adult-Gerontology Women's Health Nurse Practitioner (NP) specialty is designed for students who want to provide primary care to patients from adolescence through the adult years, with a particular focus on gender-related aspects of health and wellness.

As a graduate of this track, you'll be prepared to work in non-acute primary care settings and in various women's and reproductive health specialty settings (e.g. OB-GYN, infertility, family planning). Your unique skill set will allow you to bring both breadth and depth to the clinical care of patients, especially those who identify as female or present for care related to their sexual and reproductive health needs.

Lauren Tabar DEN '18 NP Dual Adult-Gerontology/Women's Health specialty track

 

Lauren Tabar '18

 

 

 

 

What inspired you to become a nurse practitioner, and in your specialty track?
My grandfather was a physician, and I was always inspired by his compassion and dedication to improving the lives of others. Becoming a nurse practitioner was an easy decision for me, because working in this field allows me to assist patients in determining their own health care goals. My decision to enter the dual track was twofold; I know that future health care shortages will impact accessibility for thousands of aging Americans, and I am passionate about helping empower women.

What attracted you to our program?
I researched many DEN programs across the nation prior to applying to MGH Institute of Health Professions and found only a handful that would offer the opportunity to complete a program in two specialty areas. The dual program has proven a perfect fit, as it offers me an opportunity to work in a multitude of settings after completing my graduate work here.

How have your clinical and community rotations impacted you, both as a future health professional and as a person?
My clinical rotations have given me the opportunity to work with a diverse population of providers dispersed throughout the East Coast. I have gained invaluable clinical skills and motivation for my own future practice. For me as a person, my clinical and community rotations have continued to be motivation for further education and advocacy.

What are your plans for after graduation?
After graduation, I hope to work with populations who struggle to find care. Nurse practitioners expand access to health care, lower costs, and improve outcomes. I plan to provide compassionate, integrated care and improve the health of people in need.

What’s your favorite part about studying in Boston?
Studying in Boston has allowed me to explore and collaborate in a city focused on medical and technological innovation.

Are you involved in any extracurricular activities? If so, what?
I volunteer with the Crimson Care Collaborative, which emphasizes interprofessional collaboration in the primary care setting between student health care providers, including physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants.

What are your prior degrees?
BA, Spanish, University of Nevada, Reno, 2009
BA, Journalism, University of Nevada, Reno, 2009

Where were working, in what position, before coming to the MGH Institute?
Prior to beginning my coursework at the MGH Institute, I was working as a birth doula in San Francisco.
 

Psychiatric/Mental Health Lifespan Specialty

The Psychiatric/Mental Health Lifespan Nurse Practitioner (NP) specialty is designed for students who want to help patients across the lifespan who are facing psychosocial difficulties, mental health problems, and/or addiction. As graduates of this track, students are prepared to:

  • Assess and diagnose psychiatric and mental health disorders
  • Provide psychotherapy
  • Prescribe medications for diverse populations of people living with mental illness
Arturo Lopez-Casanova, DEN '19, Psych Mental Health/Lifespan NP

 

Arturo Lopez-Casanova '19

 

 

 

 

What inspired you to become a nurse practitioner, and in your specialty track?
I was inspired to become a nurse practitioner after working on two interdisciplinary teams at McLean Hospital following my completion of my undergraduate degree in neuroscience. On these teams I was able to see how professionals interacted in various roles and positions. I worked on these units for two years as I attempted to figure out what the next step in my career would be.

For me, the choice came down to pursuing an MD or NP. What moved me towards my ultimate decision in pursuing an NP was borne partly out of my mindfulness practice and partly out of my classroom teaching of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). What I came to realize that I loved so much about DBT is the idea of balance that sits at the heart of the treatment. The idea of a dialectic is two seemingly opposing extremes that exist at the same time. The therapeutic aspect comes in when trying to find a synthesis or balance between these extremes. This is how I came to see nursing. It is the balance of body and soul that I found myself drawn to.

From what I observe, nursing strikes this balance perfectly, both in managing medications and symptoms and in getting to know the patients on a more personal level that allows for someone to feel fully taken care of and healed. The flexibility, grace, compassion, and holistic thinking that I saw exemplified by the nurses at McLean Hospital inspired me to take the steps to becoming an NP.

What attracted you to the Direct-Entry Master of Science in Nursing program at the MGH Institute?
In truth, I applied to a handful of schools across the country but made the choice to attend the MGH Institute for three main reasons.

My primary reason was that it afforded me the opportunity to stay in the Partners system that I had come to respect and admire. I also found, through speaking with alumni, that the clinical placements at MGH were some of the most hands-on learning experiences one could ask for in a direct-entry nursing program.

Secondly, it allowed me to stay close to home in order to help out as my father had recently passed away and my grandparents were beginning to need more direct care.

My last reason in choosing the Institute is that I wanted to stay close to and continue to build a network of friends and colleagues in an area that is so densely populated with health care.

How have your clinical and community rotations impacted you, both as a future health professional and as a person?
I think that my clinical placements and rotations in community health settings have really taught me how much work goes into providing care. It is amazing what can be accomplished in working in teams to support each other in ways that make this incredibly demanding work more palatable.

This team orientation is something that will really stick with me: no matter how good an individual is, a holistic team approach will be able to help you catch the things that you didn't know you weren't seeing. I find it inspiring to work alongside such passionate, hardworking, and insightful classmates and clinical instructors.

Describe an experience at the Institute that has been particularly inspiring.
It's hard to pick just one experience. I would have to say that being able to shadow one of my clinical instructors on a neuroscience ICU was something that really stands out in my mind. I personally don't want to go into acute care, but seeing how much technical skill and care goes into dealing with these individuals was something that blew me away.

I remember my instructor explaining to me how a ventilator worked, how to balance an external ventricular drain, and how to elicit comprehensive neurological assessments from a near-comatose patient. I was only able to retain so much of the information because my heart went out to these individuals who were in such compromised states. How much the nursing staff gives of themselves to take care of these patients is something that I will never forget.

What are your plans for after graduation?
Whenever someone asks me what I want to do with my life I always respond, "I want to be happy." I hope that after graduation I will be able to find a job in the Greater Boston area and be able to work both doing medication management and psychotherapy. Someone very important to me once told me that the key to happiness is doing for others and relationships. I hope to be able to give back and continue to grow my network.

What’s your favorite part about studying in Boston?
My favorite part of studying in Boston is exploring the easily walkable city and going to restaurants. The Charlestown campus is a stone's throw away from the historic North End, and areas like Cambridge and Allston have incredible food from all over the world.

Are you involved in any extracurricular activities?
Mostly I've been concentrating all of my extracurricular time on studying for and passing the NCLEX. I found out a couple of weeks ago that I passed. I have been trying to make more time to go to a kick boxing gym in my neighborhood and to go see friends on the weekends. I also spend a decent amount of time helping my grandparents around the house during the week.

What are your prior degrees?
BS, Neuroscience, Trinity College, Hartford, CT, 2013

Where were you working before coming to the Institute?
I worked at the Gunderson Residence and 3 East's Residential DBT program, both at McLean Hospital in Belmont, MA. At the Gunderson Residence I was a Community Residence Counselor and then moved to 3 East to become a Clinical Educator Specialist where I taught dialectical behavior therapy in a classroom setting.

Taixiang Xu Saur

 

Taixiang Saur '19

 

 

 

 

 

What inspired you to become a nurse practitioner, and in your specialty track?
After years of working in wards as an RN, I got to the point where I wanted to be more independent in making decisions for medical care. Studying to be a nurse practitioner provides a chance to learn new skills and challenge myself. I also worked as a researcher for years, and my research was all psychiatric-related. This background will help me better understand the underlying mechanisms of mental diseases.

What attracted you to the Direct-Entry Master of Science in Nursing program at the MGH Institute?
The MGH Institute is a top school and has very attractive programs. It is a dream school for nursing students. All my coworkers and friends who are attending or have graduated from the school are very proud of their experience.

How have your clinical and community rotations impacted you, both as a future nurse practitioner and as a person?
I had a clinical placement in a high school, which helped me understand the psychosocial and mental concerns among this group of students. Working in one of the best psychiatric hospital, McLean, and rotating in different units, has been a valuable opportunity as well.

What are your plans for after graduation?
Being a good nurse practitioner and helping patients with mental illnesses. At the same time, I hope to do clinical research.

Are you involved in any extracurricular activities?
I work part-time as an RN, 4-5 days per week, which gives me the chance to integrate clinic and academic experience.

What are your prior degrees?
Associate, Nursing, 1998 Bengbu Medical College, Bengbu, Anhui Province, People’s Republic of China
Master of Science, Pharmacology, 2002, Bengbu Medical College
PhD in Neurobiology, 2005, Bengbu Medical College

Where were you working before coming to the Institute?
I worked at McLean Hospital as a postdoc, studying psychiatric-related projects, such as the molecular mechanisms of antipsychotics and psychostimulants.

Is there anything else that you’d like to contribute about your experience as a student at the MGH Institute?
I value the learning opportunity at the MGH IHP a great deal. I would do whatever I can to help, such as volunteering or sharing my learning experience to future candidates to inspire them.

 

Women's Health

The Women's Health Nurse Practitioner (NP) specialty is ideal for students interested in providing primary reproductive health and/or specialty care to female patients ranging from young adults to seniors. Graduates are also prepared to provide sexual and reproductive care to men, and others across the non-binary gender identity continuum.

With a collaborative model for delivering holistic care, this track places special emphasis on gender-focused health assessment and health conditions that are unique to women, with consideration of factors including social determinants of health and other external influences that affect health, such as public policy.

Our students come from a variety of backgrounds. Prior to entering the program, many work in settings serving women, such as domestic violence shelters, research settings or family planning clinics. Some have no clinical experience, but majored in women's health or gender studies in college.

Serena Fasano, DEN Women's Health Specialty

 

Serena Fasano '18

 

 

 

 

 

What inspired you to become a nurse practitioner, and in your specialty track?
I've always been very passionate about medicine and the art of counseling, but I struggled to find a way to combine both practices. When I started working in a community clinic I became deeply inspired by the work the women's health nurse practitioners were doing around me. They were so much more than providers; they acted as therapists, confidants, teachers, and listeners. Medical conditions such as infertility, endometriosis, menopause or postpartum depression were not seen as illnesses curable by interventions, but rather life struggles fought by women. They treated their patients first looking at them from the inside and then out. Within a month of working in that clinic, I enrolled in my prerequisites for nursing school.

What attracted you to the Direct-Entry Master of Science in Nursing program at the MGH Institute?
When I attended my first orientation to learn about the Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner program at the MGH Institute School of Nursing, I felt that the puzzle pieces of my life came together into a perfect fit. I was amazed at the advanced curriculum and the nature of evidenced-based nursing and research. I loved that the IHP emphasizes compassionate nursing; a value that is in perfect alignment with how I view nursing practice. Most of all, I was thrilled to find a program that would allow me to study clinical women’s health with state-of-the-art teaching equipment and alongside world leaders and visionaries in health care.

How have your clinical and community rotations impacted you, both as a future health professional and as a person?
am always so inspired by the patients I have the privilege to work with. In many ways I feel like my patients teach me so much more than I could ever teach them. What women are able to face and survive truly humbles me. It is such an honor to be part of a women's health experience, particularly during her prenatal care which is a very vulnerable time in a women's life.

Describe an experience at the Institute that has been particularly inspiring.
What inspires me most about the Institute are my fellow students who have so much care and compassion for nursing. I feel so lucky to learn from the great friendships that I have built. On the first day of school I was assigned to a clinical an hour away from my house and at the time I did not have a car. My now good friend, but on that day a stranger, offered to drive me when she saw my internet browser on zipcar.com. Every morning she showed up to my house at 5 a.m. so that we could get to clinical on time. This is just one of many examples of how a great friendship helps you survive and succeed during this program.

What are your plans for after graduation?
I plan to work as a women's health nurse practitioner and provide access to family planning, prenatal care, lactation counseling and the prevention/treatment of STDs and hormonal disturbances. I aspire to master colposcopies, LARC insertions, and other specialized practices. I hope to develop my passion for female sexuality, adolescent health, and natural healing. I will strive to always remain holistic in my health care approach, not only treating symptoms, but also integrate counseling skills and theories of behavior change in my practice.

What’s your favorite part about studying in Boston?
Boston offers a vibrant city life that I have always been attracted to and yet at the same time, it sanctions quiet and serenity which is so important when working and studying full time. As I am a native Italian, Boston has also been a great city to cultivate my ethnicity.

Are you involved in any extracurricular activities?
Currently, I work as a nurse at Mystic Women's Health, a private OBGYN/Women's Healthcare practice. I am a certified lactation counselor and teach breastfeeding through classes and one-on-one counseling. I also write a health blog which seeks to empower various women's health concerns.

What are your prior degrees?
Bachelors of Health Education, University of Maryland 2011
Masters of Public Health, Columbia University, 2013

Where were you working before coming to the Institute?
Community Healthcare Network in New York City, Family Planning Health Educator.