Educational milestone marks completion of courses preceding qualification as registered nurse
Thirty graduate students marked an educational and professional milestone at their Graduate Entry Pathway (GEP) Pinning Ceremony at UMass Medical School on Monday, Sept. 9. The members of the GEP Class of 2022 took an oath to practice their profession of nursing faithfully and received pins unique to the GSN symbolizing their entry into the profession.
The annual celebration is a tradition that marks the students’ completion of educational credentials necessary for qualification as registered nurses and the beginning of continued study toward Doctor of Nursing Practice degrees that will qualify them to become nurse practitioners. For GEP students, the pinning marks the completion of the program’s first year of intensely accelerated study.
Upon completion of their DNP degrees, each student will sit for licensure as a family nurse practitioner, adult gerontology acute care nurse practitioner, or adult gerontology primary care nurse practitioner.
In her welcome, Dean Joan Vitello, PhD, encouraged the class to get to know their patients as people, and not identify them by their conditions or circumstances. Chancellor Michael F. Collins reminded the students that it is a privilege for them to care for patients.
This advice and philosophy is part of what attracted Ezequiel De Leon, the class speaker, to the GSN. A 2017 Framingham State University graduate from Northbridge, De Leon praised the GSN faculty for having shown him and his classmates how to “handle vulnerability and how to act in it not only with concrete nursing skills and knowledge, but also with a deep-seated and ingrained concern for the human condition.”
“The GSN assembled nursing knowledge, hours of didactic content, clinical immersion and a strong pedagogy,” he said, adding that the experience gave the class the privilege to study the continuum of health and illness.
De Leon spoke of moments in the past year when he had the privilege of supporting a patient and her family when their strength was gone. He spoke with pride of being able to bear witness to his classmates’ vulnerabilities and to share his as they put their hearts and souls into their coursework and celebrated their achievements.
“Friends, it’s been a pleasure being vulnerable with you. Who better to be vulnerable with than a nurse?” De Leon asked.
Classmates Candace Wallace and Yuki Fujita, MPH, agreed. The women came to nursing from different paths, but for similar reasons: to specialize in women’s health and improve access to and quality of prenatal and postnatal care.
“It’s been a tough year, but one in which we’ve seen how much we’ve grown, the challenges we’ve overcome, and how strong we’ve become as individuals and as a team and to realize that we can positively impact the lives of our patients,” said Wallace, who worked in the restaurant industry after receiving a degree in nutrition from Johnson & Wales University.
Fujita became interested in nursing after working with nurse practitioners while earning a master’s in public health from Boston University.
“I really saw how hands-on they were with patient care and how they were advocates for their patients’ overall health and well-being,” said Fujita.
Five students were recognized for achievement. They include: Aisling Ryan for Academic Excellence, Gretchen Peery for Clinical Excellence, Emily Davenport and De Leon for Spirit of Nursing. Grace Schierberl received the inaugural Daisy Award.
The formal program concluded with class representative Tina Vo, MS, leading the class in reciting the GEP pledge in unison, followed by a celebration with family, friends and faculty.
Graduate Entry Pathway Class of 2022:
Lin Wei Evan Astill
Jeffrey P. Chhim, MPH
Alexandra E. Cole
Cathleen Theresa Cuddihy
Ezequiel De Leon
Estefany Pamela Frais, MPH
Yuki Fujita, MPH
Zoheret L. Memmert-Miller
Phouangmaly Mimi Oupravanh
Gretchen Peery, MM
Erick Joel Sandoval
Tina Vo, MS
Kianna Whitney Warner