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Advice and Updates from Jennifer Etienne, CSON ’12 and KILN Alumna

April 1, 2015

Since graduating from BC in 2012, there have been many changes that have taken place in my life. Currently I work full time at New England Rehabilitation Hospital on the Cardiac/Stroke unit and also per diem at one of the clinics for Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program. I also plan to start a Family Nurse Practitioner Program in spring of 2016.

The transition from nursing student to professional nurse can be quite challenging. However with support from family, friends, and mentors, the transition can be a lot smoother. During the first years of working, a concept I found challenging to deal with and personally experienced was that coworkers are not always supportive. In healthcare, especially in nursing, one may encounter what has been termed “horizontal violence” or “nurse-to-nurse bullying.” In these situations it is important to advocate for yourself and seek support from mentors, nursing leaders or even human resources professionals.

Leadership and mentoring remain part of my professional development. I acted as the charge nurse at one of my previous jobs at Lexington Health Care Center. I continue to be involved in professional organizations such as the National Black Nurses Association and Massachusetts Nurses Association. Also, I am involved with the Horatio Alger Association, a nonprofit organization where I was recognized as a National Scholar and awarded a scholarship. I mentor and do outreach to new Horatio Alger Scholars. In addition, I continue to reach out and mentor new nurses who are still at BC or have graduated from BC.

My advice to current students is to seek out mentors who can help you progress towards your goals. Network with your professors, classmates, and clinical instructors and get involved in professional organizations such as MASNA. Also I would encourage current students to seek employment as a nursing assistant at a place where they would like to be employed. New graduates are more likely to be hired as nurses if they have worked at an organization as a nursing assistant. Do not get discouraged if you still do not have a job offer after you take the NCLEX. It may take weeks or even months but keep looking and an opportunity will surely find you! Make sure to use friends, alumni, professors, classmates, former employers, mentors and family as resources when looking for jobs. Good luck!

NPACE Primary Care Conference in Las Vegas

March 30, 2015

By Sherine Thomas

I arrived in Las Vegas on a Saturday night with very different intentions than those of most tourists. My colleagues and I were there to attend the Nurse Practitioner Associates for Continuing Edcucation (NPACE) conference and discuss the newest recommendations for managing diabetes, controlling asthma and hypertension, STI prevention, contraception and other common ailments seen by primary care providers.

The conference started off with keynote speaker, Stephanie Ahmed, NP, discussing the role of the Nurse Practitioner in meeting the “triple aim” of better health, better care and better cost for patients. Her discussion of the major health reform drivers (aging, cost of care and MD shortage) described the unique position of NPs to make measurable, desirable changes in health outcomes for the US population. Any doubt the audience may have had about the ability of NPs to bridge the primary care provider – patient gap was erased after her presentation. By providing lower-cost, high-quality health care hopefully the US will see improvements in its health care ranking compared to other developed country in the years to come.

It was great for me to experience these wonderful presentations by nurse practitioners, for nurse practitioners. Not only were the various sessions informative but this was a great networking opportunity for me. The Northeast was well represented at the conference from speakers such as Mimi Secor, Stephanie Ahmed and Wendy Wright, who have ties to Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Boston College, to providers based in community health, correctional health and primary care offices in the Boston area. I had the chance to speak with a number of these people, getting tips for the job search process and stories on their experiences as new graduate nurse practitioners.

My time at the NPACE Primary Care conference in Las Vegas is not one I will soon forget. I appreciate the opportunity provided to me by KILN to be updated on the new guidelines in primary care as well as to experience a new part of the country. As I prepare to enter clinical practice in a few months I have no doubt that I will use these guidelines in my practice.

Dr. Loretta Sweet Jemmott’s Journey Motivates and Encourages CSON Students

March 24, 2015

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On March 13, 2015, Loretta Sweet Jemmott, PhD, RN, FAAN, took time out from her responsibilities at the University of Pennsylvania to speak with CSON students in a workshop hosted by the Keys to Inclusive Leadership in Nursing program. Dr. Jemmott is the van Ameringen Professor in Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing and Associate Director of the Center for Health Equity Research at the University of Pennsylvania. She and her colleagues have been awarded more than $74 million in federal funding to study HIV/AIDS prevention among African American adolescents. She is committed to her work with community-based organizations to design, implement, and evaluate HIV prevention programs in minority populations. A master teacher, Dr. Jemmott has taught courses in the areas of AIDS, human sexuality, and sexual health promotion.
In addition to a passionate discussion about her research, Dr. Jemmott shared personal stories that resonated with students. Her wisdom about making career and life choices and coping with barriers and struggles was encouraging and motivating. Dr. Jemmott kept everyone’s attention with her powerful words and her amazing sense of humor, especially in the question and answer session. The students left the event with new ideas about career paths and the courage to remain flexible and take unexpected opportunities. One of the attendees, Abiola Lawal (CSON ’17), shared her reflections on the event:

By Abiola Lawal

“Never say I don’t know. Think fast and always say something. You never know the power of the person you are talking to” were some of the wise words spoken by Dr. Jemmott. For a woman with many years of professional success, she was vibrant and spoke with the vigor of a 21-year-old! Dr. Jemmott talked about her life and discussed the many obstacles she had to overcome, including the challenge of being the first generation in her family to attend college. She mentioned the doubts she had when her dream of becoming a nurse seemed impossible and how she overcame those doubts. She shared professional advice about excelling in nursing and personal advice such as the importance of finding a good partner. She was captivating from the beginning to end and never lost my interest. She even made the break fun by having us sing and dance to one of the songs she uses in her teen pregnancy prevention programs. Sounds silly right? I know! But, I found myself sad at the end of the talk and was amazed by the fact that two hours had gone by so quickly. Not only did Dr. Jemmott speak on nursing and life partners, but also on how her faith in God was crucial to her success. She told us to “step out on faith because you are not going to fail.” Of the many words of wisdom Dr. Jemmott shared, one that resonated most with me was “Always remember the ‘AHA’ moment that made you pick nursing as a career.” This will be my reminder whenever I begin to doubt my nursing journey or find myself wondering why I even chose nursing. Preparing towards her new administrative position at Drexel University next fall, Dr. Jemmott served as an inspiration and a role model to all who attended. As I move forward in my nursing career, I will always remember to “Reach out, try new things, and be willing to keep going!”

Dr. Elaine Meyer Inspires Students on the Power of Presence

March 9, 2015
Dr. Meyer with students

Dr. Meyer with students

On February 23, 2015, the KILN program sponsored a workshop featuring Dr. Elaine Meyer, who shared personal experiences with tough conversations from both the nurse and patient perspectives. She spoke about healthcare communication and relational strategies, reflective listening, and empathetic presence. Dr. Meyer, a nurse, is the co-founder and director of the Institute for Professionalism and Ethical Practice at Boston Children’s Hospital and an Associate Professor of Psychology in Harvard Medical School’s Department of Psychiatry.

Dr. Meyer was introduced to the students as a nursing leader in therapeutic communication between healthcare professionals and their clients. For example, when clients go through a difficult time during treatment or receive a life-changing diagnosis, healthcare professionals can ask Dr. Meyer to help them speak to patients who are about to receive bad news or make hard decisions. During our group conversation with Dr. Meyer, I learned that it is about “being present, not perfect.” This phrase spoke to me. Personally, I have been reflecting on pros and cons of a perfectionist or type-A personality. I admit that I enjoy using a planner, figuring out things ahead of time, and completing tasks correctly the first time by closely following the stated instructions. Most of the time, a type-A personality has helped me achieve good results. However, as a nursing student in the healthcare setting for the past three years, I have noticed that a type-A personality does not always benefit a client, especially when you or the client do not have control over a debilitating disease or unsuccessful medical treatment. What can I do then?

Dr.  Meyer facilitates a workshop on healthcare communication

Dr. Meyer facilitates a workshop on healthcare communication

After attending this seminar, I have been challenged to practice being present with the clients. Dr. Meyer argued that difficult situations do not demand the most perfect nurse. Rather, during the most difficult and vulnerable moments in a client’s life, a nurse is called to be human and simply share a moment of mutual understanding with a hand grasp or eye contact. Furthermore, Dr. Meyer listed specific nurse leadership qualities (e.g. courage, knowledge, and compassion) and encouraged the audience to develop these traits in hopes of providing our clients with both physical and emotional healing.

Dr. Meyer’s TEDx Talk entitled “Being Present, Not Perfect,” may be viewed at

Attending the 2015 International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health Conference

March 6, 2015
Valeriya Mikhailova at ISSWSH Conference

Valeriya Mikhailova at ISSWSH Conference

I knew that attending The International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health (ISSWSH) Annual Conference was going to be an incredible experience—what I didn’t know was just how powerful of an addition it would be to my network, career plans, and education. I have been in the field of women’s health for a while, but the level of passion, dedication, and knowledge that I encountered at the ISSWSH conference showed me an entirely new level of women’s health and its future. The conference was for practitioners and clinicians across the spectrum of health, and included doctors, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurses, therapists, and pelvic physical therapists.

The conference was held in Austin, Texas, and was a welcome reprieve from Boston’s harsh winter. When I arrived, I realized that I was one of the only students in attendance, and without any Boston College faculty or guide present it was up to me to meet the various leaders in the field, introduce myself, and create a connection leaving a positive impression. This proved to be an intimidating, yet very rewarding task, as I quickly connected with multiple leaders in the field and was acknowledged as a dedicated future practitioner rather than just a student.

Each day of the conference was filled with panel discussions, educational talks, presentations on new research and guidelines, as well as interactive learning experiences, diagnostic assistance, and new technology. Because of my focus on nursing, I was unsure of what to expect with so many different professionals in one place. What I realized was that the strengths and passions each professional brought to the educational talks and discussions could lead to a remarkable collaboration between the different professions. I was able to sit down with several physical therapists who went over new assessment guidelines in female pelvic health with me, simply because I was curious of the evolving role of pelvic physical therapy in women’s health and what role I could play in providing my patients with comprehensive care and evaluations during their annual exams. Doctors were also willing to spend time sharing information about the research done on diffuse pain disorders as it relates to women’s health diagnostic criteria. In addition, I attended a presentation called “Stump the Professor” where the leaders in the field were part of a panel presented with a unique case study. They could ask questions, consult the audience, incorporate their ideas and questions into their diagnostic thought-process, and try to make an interactive diagnosis. This panel was both incredibly interesting and informative, as the way that the information was presented and the level of contribution from the audience made the cases, symptoms, and treatments memorable.

I learned about cases, diagnoses, research, and treatment, but I also learned more about the challenges the field of women’s health is facing. Examples include a petition to change certain post-menopausal terminology to more accurately reflect a women’s state of health, the FDA pushback against women’s health medications, and the lack of universal guidelines for women’s health assessment among doctors, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants.

Overall, it took time to process everything that I learned and to begin going through the resources I now have for my future practice. The connections I made at this conference have already played a role in my future. With only two months left until I graduate, the leaders of the conference were happy to offer networking opportunities with those geographically close to where I will be moving, and within a few days I had several connections set up with even more of the leading advocates, practitioners, and educators in the field—all in San Francisco, the place I will be moving back to upon graduation.

This was my first, but definitely not my last, ISSWSH conference. To be in the same space as so many individuals who are passionate and dedicated to the same specialty was empowering, inspirational, and further evidence that I am on the right path. I am incredibly excited to become a part of the ISSWSH community as I begin my journey as a women’s health nurse practitioner, and am already looking forward to next year’s conference!

Greetings from Stephanie Mui, CSON ’13 and KILN Alumna

March 4, 2015
Stephanie Mui '13 (bottom row: second from left) with colleagues at  Medstar Georgetown University Hospital

Stephanie Mui ’13 (bottom row: second from left) with colleagues at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital

Hi KILN scholars!

I graduated from CSON in 2013 and almost immediately began working as an RN through the Medstar Georgetown University Hospital (MGUH)nurse residency program. I work on a medical oncology unit, so I primarily see patients with solid tumor cancers – breast, lung, pancreatic, colorectal, cervical, etc. I care for patients throughout all stages of their disease. While some patients have good prognoses, others are holding on for dear life as they battle metastatic cancers, endure painful radiation, and receive multiple rounds of chemotherapy. Some respond well to the combination of treatments, others face the difficult decision of continuing with aggressive treatment or transitioning into palliative care or hospice. I have the privilege of helping my patients navigate these trying times. I administer chemotherapy, manage debilitating side effects, and advocate for their needs when they often cannot. Though this can be physically, emotionally, and spiritually taxing on all involved, it is incredibly rewarding, and I love what I do.

While I have learned a great deal during my 18 months as an RN, I could not have made it this far alone. Georgetown’s residency program provided additional support and resources to facilitate my first year as a nurse, including skills classes and an oncology fellowship that expanded my knowledge and familiarity with the needs of our patient population. I highly recommend residency programs because they help you build fundamental nursing skills, ultimately establishing a strong foundation to help you succeed in your nursing career. I also enjoyed learning alongside other new graduate nurses; you develop a sense of camaraderie that is irreplaceable during a time of great anxiety, fear, and stress.

Despite how much I have learned, I still look to my fellow nurses, educator, and manager for assistance on a regular basis. They are my most valuable resource. My most important piece of advice for new nurses is to never be afraid to ask questions; your coworkers offer a wealth of knowledge and are always willing to help. Don’t ever feel embarrassed because there is no such thing as a silly question – the patient’s safety is the ultimate priority.

Currently I am precepting students and new graduate nurses on our unit. I was hesitant in the beginning, but you will find that you know much more than you think. It is important to be confident in your abilities, yet you must also be able to identify your areas of weakness and seek help when necessary. The opportunity to share knowledge and experiences with new nurses is humbling and rewarding, and of course so much fun!

I also serve on a hospital-wide wellness committee at MGUH that promotes end-of-life care in patients throughout their disease trajectory. In other words, we advocate for these patients to ensure that they are comfortable whether they have just been diagnosed or have reached a terminal stage in their disease. I never would have imagined myself to develop such an interest in oncology and palliative care. In nursing school, I actually pictured myself to be in pediatrics or obstetrics. I’m fortunate to have found a specialty that I am truly passionate about, and I advise new nurses to keep exploring all avenues until they find their niche. I cannot stress the importance of doing what you love. It will translate into the care you provide, ultimately making you and your patients happy.

KILN Students Network with Nurse Leaders at the New England Regional Black Nurses Association Awards Dinner

February 10, 2015

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Nine students in the “Keys to Inclusive Leadership in Nursing” program enjoyed the opportunity to see inspirational nurse leaders receive Nursing Excellence awards from the New England Regional Black Nurses Association (NERBNA). The banquet, also attended by ten CSON faculty members, was held at the Boston Copley Marriott hotel on February 6, 2015. The keynote speaker, Marcia I. Wells Avery, reflected on her career and shared her story about overcoming obstacles to success. The dinner was preceded by a reception, where students got the opportunity to network with nurse leaders from clinical practice, research, and academia. KILN students Patience Marks and Chiamaka Okorie shared their reflections on the event:

By S. Chiamaka Okorie, CSON ’17,
On February 6th, 2015, I attended the NERBNA Excellence in Nursing Awards. In the keynote speech, Ms. Marcia Wells Avery quoted ballerina Misty Copeland: “You can start late, be unsure, look different, and still succeed.” In the middle of my first year of transferring into Connell School of Nursing and still unsure about how I can accomplish my dreams, it was amazing to hear these words. I registered to attend this event in hopes of advice but I received more inspiration than I hoped for.

Each award recipient shared their story, obstacles, and faith and thanked families and teams for supporting them along the way. While some had recently begun their nursing journey, others had changed careers late in their life, and some had dedicated their life to nursing. Each nurse reminded me that excellence is a journey and mindset. As a Nigerian-American student, it was also very empowering to witness the honoring of Black nurses and glimpse the wonderful Black nursing community.

I also had the pleasure of sitting amongst Dean Susan Gennaro and Professors William Fehder, Viola Benavente, and Allyssa Harris. As we talked about their families and experience in nursing, I was again reminded of how blessed I feel to be part of the CSON community. I knew that these faculty members want to see the best for their students and help us achieve our own excellence.

I would absolutely recommend this experience to any student or faculty. It is always a gift to hear from nurses who embody excellence, faith, and hard work; it renews our mission as nurses.

By Patience Marks, CSON ‘15
I was beyond grateful for the chance to be present at such an inspirational and motivating event. The most exciting part for me was the keynote speaker, Dr. Marcia I. Wells Avery, and her lessons from the “story of the unlikely ballerina.” Emphasized by Dr. Avery was the idea of achieving beyond the “-ism” and not being dissuaded by bigotry, prejudice, and disbelievers. Being an individual within a triple minority (an immigrant, African-American, and a woman) this idea resonated with me because I am no stranger to the trials and tribulations of society. I’ve sometimes gotten to a point where giving up sometimes seemed more of an option than continuing to fight and push forward. As a developing professional and student nurse, I’ve encountered many situations academically, clinically, and socially that caused me to use the word “can’t,” allowing me to believe that I “couldn’t.” Dr. Avery’s speech touched my heart and allowed me to see the “can” in every impossibility and the “will do” in every possibility, which I will forever appreciate and remember. As she stated in the end, like the story of the unlikely ballerina, you can always “start late, look different, be uncertain, and still succeed.” I plan to take this inspiration with me in my path as a nurse and beyond.


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