Ian Sybils discovered he can combine his love for teaching while helping patients.

Ian Syblis never intended on becoming a nurse.

A 2022 graduate of the MGH Institute’s accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, he is the son of a nurse so learned about health care from an early age. But Syblis, who was intent on forging his own career, attended the University of Massachusetts Amherst and majored in public health. 

“Like a lot of new grads, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do after graduation,” says Syblis.

That’s when he came upon an opportunity to teach health in the Everett Public Schools. Although he had never considered teaching, he thought it could be a good way to use his degree.

It turns out Syblis was a natural in the classroom. “Teaching was fun,” he says. His class focused on sexual and reproductive health, and it became an unlikely favorite among students. “I always tried to keep it interactive and also let them know that I was here as a resource for them,” he says. 

Syblis loved presenting public health in new and interesting ways to his students and was even more invigorated by the connections he was able to develop with them. But he felt something was missing

“It was an incredible way to help others and that was always important to me,” he says. “But I also knew that I wanted my work to be more hands-on.” 

For years, family, friends, and, not surprisingly, his own mother, had encouraged him to consider nursing. He’d always wanted to steer clear of the “family business” But after researching BSN programs and what he’d be able to do with a nursing degree, he decided to apply.  

It was when Syblis entered MGH Institute's nursing program that he discovered many of his passions could come together for the first time. 

“Nursing is a type of teaching,” he says. “You have to make sure your patients are educated about their needs while also teaching them to be good advocates for themselves. You can really only be successful at turning your patients into expert self-advocates if you have built a connection with them.”

Those connections have been Syblis’ favorite parts of both teaching and nursing. 

“I know how to talk to anyone about anything,” he says. “A lot of patients end up telling me their life stories and I’m happy to hear them.” 

Professor Rachael Salguero, one of Syblis’ professors credits his prior teaching experience with preparing him to understand patients’ unique needs. “As nurses, we know that our patients require individualized attention, and Ian has already developed that skill,” she says.

Syblis’ patients and former students aren’t the only ones who have noted this natural ability to make connections. At this summer’s program pinning ceremony, a celebration of students’ hard work for completing the 16-month program, he was awarded the Wetherill Award which honors a student who has demonstrated significant thoughtfulness for others. 

“It hit me at that moment,” he says. “A lot of people trusted me with their stories throughout school. I was always happy to listen.” 

As Syblis nears his NCLEX exam date, he is ready to begin his first nursing job. He is hoping to join a general medicine floor and soak up as much experience as he can. “All I know is I want to make a difference in people’s lives.”

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