Dozens of graduates leveraging, including three scholarship winners, clinical rotations and IHP educations for careers at world-renowned hospital.
A year and a half ago, Tyler Brown was an account manager at Wayfair, Julie Cavicchia was an occupational therapist, and MacKenzie Church had just left her career in teaching and was taking pre-requisite courses
Now, after finishing the IHP’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, all three are newly- minted graduates with jobs waiting for them at Massachusetts General Hospital.
“I’ve never felt this excited about a career before,” said Church. “It's a little surreal. This has been kind of a dream of mine that's been in the making before I started my pre-reqs. It’s really exciting.”
“I’m just so excited and grateful,” said Brown. “The opportunity to know that I'll be working at MGH takes a little bit of pressure off of my shoulders in terms of trying to figure out where my next steps were.”
“It’s such a relief to have a job,” said Cavicchia. “It’s kind of crazy to have a job lined up so early. I was lining up some places in case I didn't get a job at MGH and kind of looking at other facilities, and I saying, ‘Oh, I really hope I don't have to pursue these.’”
The trio will join dozens of other IHP graduates who will be employed by the Mass General Brigham system, a sequence that has become the norm over the past few years. What sets apart Brown, Cavicchia and Church is the fact they are recipients of MGH Scholarships given to high-performing BSN students who are in their final semester. Each scholarship came with $10,000 and a promise of a job for two years at one of the world’s most esteemed medical centers. It is the first time MGH tied a working commitment to its scholarships.
“I feel I have worked really hard in this program,” said Church. “I really prioritized making good grades and setting myself up for success. So, I think the scholarship reflects that.”
The program is getting the green light from MGH to continue.
“I’m thrilled with how things are going,” said Dr. Debbie Burke, Chief Nurse and Senior VP for Patient Care at MGH. “We know we’re getting top-notch nurses when we hire IHP graduates. Plus, this is helping us fill out workforce pipeline, so it’s really a win-win for all involved. MGH couldn’t be happier.”
And neither could School of Nursing Dean Ken White, who has made tightening the relationship with MGH a priority since he arrived.
“This has been a true partnership between our two institutions, one that has benefitted both sides,” said White, who came to the IHP in July of 2021. “The hospital is getting quality graduates who are familiar with MGH because they’ve finished most of their clinical rotations there. And our students are getting the chance to work for one of the most renowned hospitals in the world.”
That strengthened relationship between the graduate school and its founder is paying off; so far, Massachusetts General Hospital has hired 32 IHP nursing students from this year’s graduating class, and a few more may be on the way.
Brown’s journey to nursing school and a job at MGH’s Orthopedic Unit was unconventional, to say the least. He worked in advertising technology for two years and then at the e-commerce furniture giant Wayfair for four years but all along, he knew sitting behind a desk was not for him. A friend of Brown’s husband had recently finished an ABSN program, which felt attainable given Brown had been a pre-med major in college.
Brown chose the IHP in part because of its connection to MGH and because classes weren’t virtual.
“A lot of the other accelerated programs had a majority of it online; I liked that the IHP was really focused on in-person learning, with hands-on opportunities and simulations, and it just felt like the right fit for me,” said Tyler, who had been accepted at other nursing programs. “I really like that the IHP was tied to MGH – that was a big bonus. MGH has such an amazing reputation of being one of the best hospitals in the U.S, so that definitely drew me towards the program too.”
Brown appreciated how the IHP’s program met him where he was – an older, adult learner making a career change.
“I think all of the professors were really understanding,” said Brown. “It's hard to go into something extremely new and not be good at it right away, but because it's an accelerated program, and a lot of people have second degrees, they know how to meet you and say, ‘It’s OK to fail. It's OK to do something wrong.’ But that's just the process of learning and I think a big focus of the IHP is, ‘We're all here to learn - there's no judgment or anything.’”
Brown will work in orthopedics at MGH, and he hopes to focus on his passion – inclusive LGBT healthcare, particularly the healthcare needs of the trans community.
“I found a lot of interest in orthopedics during my preceptorship, especially with the orthopedic and plastic surgical and recovery process such as wound care, pain management, patient education,” said Brown. “Gender-affirming care and LGBTQIA+ healthcare advocacy is what I want to dedicate my career to long term. I like that MGH is putting a focus on inclusive care, which is now more important than ever.”
“I have gone through a lot of ups and downs and turns in my career journey, and mostly, I'm just excited about starting this venture because it combines all of the things that I knew I wanted in a career, and I'm finally pursuing my passions.”
When Cavicchia decided to become a nurse, she thought about critical care. But it was only after experiencing it firsthand did it solidify her desire to work in an ICU.
“I really enjoyed the one-on-one time with patients, and I kind of felt like it was a lot of autonomy on the nurses end because there's just like so many things to consider,” said Cavicchia, who will work in MGH’s Medical Intensive Care unit (MICU). “It was just a cool way to see how important all of the things that we've learned in school how much they matter.”
The Massachusetts native had plenty of choices with the region’s other nursing programs, but she chose the IHP because of its affiliation with Massachusetts General Hospital.
“Even starting nursing school, I knew that I wanted to work at one of the hospitals within Mass General Brigham,” said Cavicchia. “I have colleagues and friends who work at MGH and Brigham and Women's and those kinds of places, and I've just heard that it's a really supportive environment, and challenging. These are big hospitals, some of the best hospitals in the world and I’ve heard really good things, and I wanted to set myself up for a job here in the future.”
A job that came after 16-months of clinicals at MGH and classes taught by instructors who are nurses at MGH or other hospitals.
“Having professors who are also currently practicing as nurses is really helpful,” said Cavicchia, “because as they’re teaching our classes, they're using their own personal experiences to guide the curriculum.”
How the classes and clinicals were structured also made a difference, says Cavicchia.
“You do your first clinical on the first semester, which I think is somewhat unique to the IHP based on what I've heard from other people who have done accelerated programs - clinicals sometimes don't start until the maybe the second semester. But with the IHP you're right in there - semester one. I find that hands-on experience is the best, and I think that the IHP really hones in on that, and they put you in the clinical, so that when you're in the classroom, you can pull on the experiences that you're actually seeing on the floors.
“I think having gone to the IHP has been incredibly helpful, probably more so than I even realize when it comes to starting my career there as a nurse.”
A high school teacher in North Carolina, MacKenzie Church always had the healthcare bug; her mom and grandmothers are both nurses. When the pandemic hit, it seemed like a good time to take the plunge into a new career. So, she moved to Boston, began taking her pre-requisite courses, then enrolled in the IHP’s ABSN program. The IHP’s affiliation with Massachusetts General Hospital was a draw.
“I know the reputation of the hospital - everyone does,” said Church. “I knew I wanted to start myself off in a place that would be supportive of me and would have the resources that I need to actually be able to learn and develop as a new nurse - that was that was really important to me.”
Another draw to the IHP was the sense of community. Church had been accepted to another Boston program that was less expensive and faster, but she felt the IHP would tailor more to the student experience.
“With the nursing shortages that we're experiencing everywhere, I think that a lot of programs are under pressure to make things as quick and cheap as possible to turn out nurses,” noted Church. “I wanted to make sure that my education is a good one, and I want to make sure that I go to a school that values teaching equality, diversity, all of the latest evidence-based practices, and I and I feel like the IHP did that.”
While at the IHP, Church was impressed with the inclusivity of the faculty.
“They made sure we understand the differences and medical care for minorities, or the LGBTQ+ community,” said Church. “IHP professors are using the most inclusive language. I think they're paving the way for what is the appropriate way to care for all kinds of people going forward.”
Church said the IHP’s high-level classes were complex, complicated and a lot of work, all of which prepared her for the next stop: the August NCLEX exams and, assuming she passes, MGH’s respiratory acute care unit, known as the RACU.
“I really enjoy working at the hospital. I think that the nurses that work at MGH are the best of the best,” said Church. “I really liked the way that this hospital is able to use the most updated research and practice. I see things going on in that hospital that I haven't seen going on in other places. So, it's really great to be a part of a team that's willing to try to do different things and make sure they're always up to date on the latest care.
“For anyone like me coming from a different career and thinking about taking the plunge into health care, I think that the IHP is an excellent place to do it. I think that you will get the cream of the crop of clinical experiences. I feel pretty confident about the NCLEX exam. So, there's not much more you can ask from a program.”
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