Meet Our Graduates
Hometown: Queens, NY
School: Hofstra Northwell School of Nursing and Physician Assistant Studies
Degree: MS in Nursing, Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
What's Next: Entering doctoral program at Hofstra to get my Doctor of Nurse Practitioner degree
Why did you choose Hofstra for this advanced degree?
I had done a lot of research regarding which school I wanted to go to. Northwell has always been very supportive of me, and I knew they were intertwined with Hofstra. Mostly I knew that many of professors that were teaching at Hofstra held leadership roles within Northwell, and I wanted to be taught by people that were professionals. The ability to network is an important aspect of going to Hofstra and working at Northwell. I wanted the best.
You worked as a critical care nurse at Lenox Hill, part of Northwell Health, for many years. How did you decide to pursue this new area of nursing?
I was working in critical care when COVID-19 hit, and in addition to the medical issues, I saw that it was having a huge impact on people’s mental health – the patients, their family members, and the providers. Also, I saw people turning to substance use during the pandemic and recognized it as a big problem in New York City, Long Island, and upstate New York. These are communities I care about. That fueled me to go back to school and get into the mental health field.
But I don't want to minimize the internal debate that I had about giving up critical care nursing. I would have many discussions with people who I consider role models including Renee McCloud, the vice dean of the program. When we would work nights together at LIJ Valley Stream I would ask her advice, and she was always supportive, lending the ear I needed. It was great to have that, and with her gentle guidance I felt that I found my calling.
What kind of work does a psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner do, and how has Hofstra prepared you for it?
My specific field is called consult-liase in psychiatry – which is a blend of both medicine and psychiatry, leaning on my strong critical care background as a nurse.
In this practice, when an admitted patient has or is developing psychiatric issues, we will come and assess the patient and determine what exactly is going on. Is this a psychiatric disorder occurring in the setting of a medical issue? Or was there something under diagnosed that’s now being brought to light because of this medical condition?
We utilize clinical screening tools, which we learned at Hofstra, to help define issues that may be well hidden.
Nursing is stressful. How to you practice self-care while caring for others?
When I started my career, I was so busy that I didn't have any type of self-care. It’s part of what pushed me into going into mental health - I felt this major burn out in myself, and I saw it in everyone not just nurses.
One of the things that I decided to do to practice self-care was to be more involved in my old hobbies, like role-playing video games. They are beautiful stories that are morally complex, so I get to use critical thinking but in a relaxed fun way. I also focus on diet, exercise, and socialization. But the best way I have brought joy into my life is with my mini-poodle Chomper, who I got as a puppy a year ago.
When you were on campus, where would you go to take a break from your studies?
I love the library. On the top floor you get a beautiful view. When it’s a nice, clear day you can see Manhattan.
What’s next for you?
Right after I finish my master’s I’m going into the doctoral program at Hofstra to get my Doctor of Nurse Practitioner degree. I'm interested in research and the DNP will allow me to recognize good research, analyze it, and implement it to practice. Evidence-based practice is a huge part of what we do in nursing science.
What advice do you have for young people considering the field?
The first thing to do is just concentrate on the science classes – the anatomy, the physiology, the chemistry, because no matter what you do in nursing these fundamentals are important.
Then just keep building upon your skills. There are going to be times with a lot of self-doubt but that's just part of growing. Mostly remember - you're going to get through it! It's a difficult process, but that's how character is built. Nursing isn’t an easy career but it's definitely fulfilling.