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Reaching Out to Underserved Communities To Encourage Students in the Health Profession with Mary Rose Saint-Cyr, Second-Year Nursing Student in the Direct Entry Master of Science in Nursing Program
Episode

Mary Rose Saint-Cyr, Second-Year Nursing Student in the Direct Entry Master of Science in Nursing Program

Reaching Out to Underserved Communities To Encourage Students in the Health Profession

In this episode of Outcomes Rocket Nursing, we are privileged to feature Mary Rose Saint-Cyr, one of the great nursing leaders coming out of the next generation. Mary Rose has such an interesting background so we invited her to know why she decided to study nursing. Mary Rose talks about her inspiration for taking the plunge in nursing and overcoming the many noes. She also shares insights on the importance of diversity in the health workforce, the value of having a supportive community, adopting a holistic admissions process, and many more. This is an inspiring and eye-opening interview, especially for those who are considering nursing as a career, so make sure to tune in!

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Reaching Out to Underserved Communities To Encourage Students in the Health Profession with Mary Rose Saint-Cyr, Second-Year Nursing Student in the Direct Entry Master of Science in Nursing Program

About Chris Recinos

Mary Rose is currently a second-year nursing student in the Direct Entry Master of Science in Nursing Program at Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professionals in Boston. She has over seven years of experience in managing grant-funded programs that help increase the number of minorities in health professions by exposing first-generation, underrepresented, economically disadvantaged students to the field of medicine. She started her career at Columbia University College of Physicians and Services Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, where she served as program assistant for the State Pre-College Enrichment Program. Recently, she served at the University of California Post-Graduate Consortium Coordinator, where she was instrumental in developing a joint collaborative structure for admissions, recruitment, and outreach for the UCD, UCI, UCLA, and UCSF Post Baccalaureate Programs. 

Mary Rose significantly contributed to the successful application subdivision and the awarding of a three-year grant from the California Wellness Foundation that supports the UC Postbaccalaureate Consortium operations. She also served as UC Davis Postbaccalaureate program coordinator. She was both responsible for the development and implementation of undergraduate pathway program initiatives. Mary Rose is an advocate and an advisor for underrepresented and disadvantaged pre-health students. Ultimately, she wishes to serve as a psychiatric nurse practitioner and continue to champion health care workforce diversity initiatives.

Reaching Out to Underserved Communities To Encourage Students in the Health Profession with Mary Rose Saint-Cyr, Second-Year Nursing Student in the Direct Entry Master of Science in Nursing Program at: Audio automatically transcribed by Sonix

Reaching Out to Underserved Communities To Encourage Students in the Health Profession with Mary Rose Saint-Cyr, Second-Year Nursing Student in the Direct Entry Master of Science in Nursing Program at: this mp3 audio file was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the best speech-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors.

Rebecca Love:
Hi everyone! This is Outcomes Rocket Nursing with Rebecca Love, bringing you interviews with the most innovative and leading nurses in the United States and abroad, and today it is so exciting to have Mary Rose Saint-Cyr on with us today. And let me tell you a little bit about Mary Rose. Mary Rose is currently a second year nursing student in the Direct Entry Master of Science in Nursing Program at Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professionals located in Boston. Mary Rose, so excited you’re here because you’re going to be the first nursing student we have. However, she has over seven years of experience in managing grant funded programs that help increase the number of minorities in health professions by exposing first-generation, underrepresented, economically disadvantaged students to the field of medicine. She started her career at Columbia University College of Physicians and Services Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, where she served as a program assistance for the State Pre-College Enrichment Program. The State Pre-College Enrichment Program is a high school pathway program for high achieving students from New York University who aspire to pursue careers in health professions. Recently, she served at the University of California Post-Graduate Consortium Coordinator, where she was instrumental in developing a joint collaborative structure for admissions, recruitment, and outreach for the UCD, UCI, UCLA, and UCSF Post Baccalaureate Programs. Mary Rose significantly contributed to the successful application subdivision and the awarding of a three-year grant from the California Wellness Foundation that supports the UC Postbaccalaureate Consortium operations. She also served as UC Davis Postbaccalaureate program coordinator. She was both responsible for the development and implementation of undergraduate pathway program initiatives. Mary Rose is an advocate and an advisor for underrepresented and disadvantaged pre-health students. Ultimately, she wishes to serve as a psychiatric nurse practitioner and continue to champion health care workforce diversity initiatives. Mary Rose, I am so glad you are with us today.

Mary Rose Saint-Cyr:
Thank you for having me, Rebecca.

Rebecca Love:
Well, I am telling you, as I mentioned just in our opening, you are our first nursing student that’s participating in Outcomes Rocket Nursing. And I think this is so important to hear from those who are entering nursing at this time because the world is different. And so tell us what inspired you to go into nursing with your background and everything that you’ve done to champion? What made you take the plunge in one of the leading programs in the United States for entering this direct program. So tell us a little bit about what inspired you to take that leap.

Mary Rose Saint-Cyr:
I think what inspired me to take the leap into nursing and really changed my career was my experience navigating the health system with my brother, who has a psychotic disorder. You know, I identify as a first -generation American. My parents were born and raised in Haiti, so navigating the health system with them was a bit challenging over the years and really getting them to understand my brother’s condition and wait resources that were available to him in the States. So that really inspired me to pursue a degree in nursing and specifically on the track of psychiatric mental health because I want to help underserved communities, as well as families who may be new to this country,, and really help them to understand the mental health system as well as the health system. But my journey you, it definitely was not, I can’t tell you that in 2011 I thought I’d be in nursing school, so I think I was inspired along the way by nursing professionals I encountered at UC Davis and specifically at their School of Nursing. They’ve done a great job in really developing diversity efforts, and they offered an annual African-American nursing conference every summer. And so for over four years, I just volunteered. I would just show up and support in the way that I could, and those faculty members really encouraged me to consider this pathway as well.

Rebecca Love:
I’m sorry to hear that your brother suffers from this disorder, and I think those firsthand experiences often shape us in ways that we don’t realize until later. So that you said in 2011, 10 years later, would you be sitting in nursing school? It’s so funny how life transitions on that, and I mean, your path in the last few years and those that you’ve been working with and the inspiration that you’ve had. There is this conversation around the importance of diversity in every aspect of the population. But the question that I have for you is why do we need more focus on diversity and supporting those who are underrepresented and honestly usually underserved to become nurses? And how do you think that we should be looking at the health care ecosystem with an eye to that problem?

Mary Rose Saint-Cyr:
I mean, I think a diverse health workforce can really address the health disparities within our community, as well as just support marginalized communities. I remember working with a physician by the name of Ephraim Talamantes, and he published an article about the importance of the community college pathway and how that can increase physician diversity. To me, I was just inspired by the idea of reaching out to underserved communities to encourage those students to pursue health professions because they’re more likely to return and serve the patient population within their community. Do I have all the answers to diversity and like a way that we can address it within nursing specifically? I feel like, no, I think it’s a multifactorial issue. I think, you know, students will encounter many barriers along the way when it comes to the admissions process. In addition to that, the hidden curriculum within the nursing school. And then once you graduate navigating the job application process and really developing those soft skills so that you can land a leadership position. I think there are just challenges along the way for underrepresented nurses, as well as nursing students and pre-nursing students.

Rebecca Love:
Oh, you know what. You just sit there with such a refreshing answer to a problem that I think has not been. You said it so eloquently, which is people go back and serve the communities in which they come from, which can solve so much of the health issues and disparities that we have. And I think fundamentally, that is exactly what is at the core of what we need to embrace in nursing. And I’m just so glad to see that you have chose to enter nursing and champion this idea and represent your own community to say, Let’ssolve this. And if I become a nurse, we can go back and solve some of these problems within our own communities. And I think when you’re looking at the future, you’re in school and you are looking at the current health care systems, what can we do differently and better than what is available today, especially to communities who are underrepresented?

Mary Rose Saint-Cyr:
You know, I think that nursing schools should adopt a holistic admissions process. So if we’re looking at a student that’s coming from an underrepresented background, they may not have access to those resources of those from privileged communities. For instance, there are students who hire folks to write their personal statements or at least help them to craft their personal statement. And if you’re coming from an underserved community, you may not have the funding to do so. There are folks who have access within their network or within, I guess they may have that social capital where they can get that warm introduction to an admissions department or a director of admissions that can really help them to navigate the admissions process for nursing school. But I think if we’re thinking about reaching out to underserved communities, we need to think about really addressing it from high school, equipping them with the tools and skills that they need those soft skills so that they are able to navigate the undergraduate nursing experience or if they decide to pursue a BSN program. But like, we need to start early on to equip our students with those necessary skills.

Rebecca Love:
I know the audience can’t see us Mary Rose, but literally standing ovation. My hands went up in the air. I love that you just advocated for holistic admissions processes at nursing schools, and I think what you just so beautifully represented was that there are inherent barriers to the way we accept admissions into these that have constantly been a disadvantage to those who do not have access to those resources. And by creating that system without redesigning it for equal access, we’re never going to solve the problems we’re having in health care because we’re going to keep building the system that only produces nurses that can afford to go to nursing school and get those educations that have those skill sets because they’ve been afforded the luxuries of their life to do so. And there are things that we have to recognize that nursing is the front line for everyone. And so I just want you to know that I am so glad to hear you champion those ideas because it is a conversation that I’ve heard whispered in the halls of higher institutes of education, but not hundred percent embraced. And so when you step back and you think to yourself, I’m becoming a nurse because I believe that nursing represents X. and that people may not understand nursing in this way. What do you believe people need to know from nursing about nursing that either inspired you to become a nurse and go into nursing school as opposed to picking another profession? Because you had plenty of options to consider; medical school or school of public health or anything like why did you choose nursing? What was that inherent belief in you about nursing as opposed to other professions that you said, this is why I need to be part of nursing as opposed to some other health care profession?

Mary Rose Saint-Cyr:
Well, I mean, I believe that nursing, like with a nursing degree, you’re able to really pursue jobs in various sectors. So you don’t necessarily have to stay out at the bedside to make a direct impact on a patient population. You could enter into public health nursing. There are so many opportunities within the nursing profession that when I figured that part out, I thought, Wow, like I can take my interest in wanting to diversify the health workforce and really take that to nursing and see how I can make an impact. Or I can also mentor students as well as work at the bedside with patients. Or I can create a program to introduce students to the nursing profession in addition to working at a hospital or working within the community. So I think there are a variety of opportunities. I just thought nursing would have been a great fit for me at the point where I was in my life at the time. And I definitely think being in Boston, this ecosystem like just now getting introduced to the entrepreneurial ecosystem, but just the nursing industry out here, it’s huge and I just never knew and so I moved to Boston. So I’m very excited for the future of nursing. I’m excited to see where my career goes from here, and I’m just excited to really see the field shift as we are navigating through this pandemic.

Rebecca Love:
I love that. I love that you see endless opportunities for careers as a nurse, and that is something so different than what I believed in nursing. Even 15 years ago, when my mom told me to become a nurse, I only saw one picture of nursing, and you just totally inspired me that this next generation sees it as totally a world that you can make your future. And I’m not going to lie. Boston, in and of itself is just such a cool ecosystem, but I’m not sure it exists quite like this everywhere else in the world. And when you show up and you live in Boston, the world does change your whole view of the world. And you and I both live in Boston, and I think just being in that ecosystem in and of itself is unique. But what you just said about nursing, about those endless opportunities, it means that the work that a lot of us in nursing, those tied to SONSIEL have been trying to do champion new ways that the world sees nursing. It means that it’s starting to resonate. And so thank you for that because I wondered, I think we’ve all wondered, have we been making a difference the last few years trying to redefine what nursing looks like. So that being said, tell me, I know you’re not a nurse yet, but you’re in nursing school and I know you’ve done some innovation events and things like that. So can you give us an example of a time that you saw your nursing team come up with a great solution to a problem?

Mary Rose Saint-Cyr:
Yeah, actually. Recently in my public health nursing class, we created a program proposal to address the suicide rates within Everett, Massachusetts, within the teenage population. And again, through that class, I was able really to apply the design thinking theory. But really, I kind of looked at it as add pi, as Mary Leary mentioned during the hackathon. But yeah, through that project experience, I really realized that design thinking can be implemented in various areas of the nursing curriculum, which was so surprising to me because again, I participated in the hackathon in May. So who knew that I could apply those skills to my coursework?

Rebecca Love:
Mary Leary is going to be so happy to hear you say that just to let you know. And she’s going to be so honored to hear that her teaching before nurse hat for health hackathon teaching add pi and design thinking helped you in a program at Mass General come up with a solution for dealing with suicide rates in teenagers in Everett. Tell us, can you give us a little bit of the background on that? What was the statistics? What were you seeing? and what was the solution that you came up with and sort of taking some of those learnings from that experience through that hackathon with Mary and Luke? How did you sort of navigate this problem-solution fit in a way that you’re like, Wow, we can do really great things using this skill set?

Mary Rose Saint-Cyr:
So in terms of the data, I don’t know all of the information off the top of my head. We spent the semester and really we started off our course at an adult daycare and Everett. And through that, we then conducted a windshield survey and then informant interviews. And then we were able to collect data on the city of Everett. And once we collected the data, we realized that there was a gap in terms of services for teenagers. We noticed that there was a higher rate of suicide within the city, so we then decided to create an app. We actually never move forward with the app, right? So it was just part of a program proposal. So I can’t really speak that much on the data because again, this was a school project that we just wanted to create an intervention.

Rebecca Love:
You know, the power of what you were just saying, though, is that as you went through this process, you recognize that there were innovative ways to come up with solutions that if you had not experienced this past event and design thinking and hackathon that perhaps the same ideas and solution market fit wouldn’t have come to you and where I think many of us have been stuck to nursing or where we were taught is we always focused on the problems. It was always on. But study more, research more, but it never took us to the point where, hey, you’re empowered to do something different about them. And what you just defined was that process led forward to help you do those things and you saw the power of your community and your program to really create winning solutions. So I think that’s incredibly inspiring. And you know, you have such an interesting background to get to your personal different exposure levels of what was going on, and you’ve made it to one of the most prestigious programs in the country. And so you represent to the world a new voice that so many people are going to aspire to be. You represent what so many of that next generation look and feel like and hope for. But can you tell us, have you experienced a setback that almost derailed you in your way? And what was the learnings that you took away from that to keep going and perhaps inspire others like you who might have thought nursing is out of reach? It’s never going to happen for me. I come from a community that I’m never going to get the resources, the money, the interviews, the support to get to nursing school. But what from your personal experience or story could you share with us that would give others hope that one day they could be you, too?

Mary Rose Saint-Cyr:
I mean, I think that my entire story I pretty much had to persevere past no. When I started working, I worked in New York City, and at the time I was commuting two hours from New York City to New Jersey every day to work as a program assistant at a university and hopes that I would then really rise through the ranks and eventually become a student affairs leader. But I realized the importance of my family, the importance of community. And so because of that, I decided to transition to a nonprofit and that role was great. It was in New Jersey. I was able to connect with other underserved students who were high achieving to help them to get into more competitive high school programs within the state. And I decided at twenty-five like I had this quarter-life crisis. And I realized, like, if I want to change my life, change the trajectory of my life, I need to start taking bigger risks. So I decided to move across the country, which I wouldn’t advise everyone. But, you know, I decided to do it at twenty-five and I moved to Sacramento, and there I was able to really develop a community of professionals who wanted me to succeed. So my introduction to UC Davis School of Medicine was again through a nursing conference that I attended. And the women through the African-American Women’s Health Legacy Organization, they were the ones that encouraged me over the course of four years, so it’s not like I just decided one day, Hey, I’m going to apply to the nursing school. This took four years. Once I decided that I wanted to go to nursing school, for me to then complete my prerequisites, In addition to working full time, traveling with my job, supporting other students, you know, managing life’s demands with my family who was like across the country. So my story, I think it’s unique, but I think what I would encourage young folks to do is really find that community that will really nurture you and support you along the way because you will experience a lot of no’s. Understand I applied to nursing programs like two years ago. I decided I did not get into nursing school, which was fine, like I wasn’t even ready. I wasn’t financially prepared for what’s to come in nursing school. I don’t even think I was mentally prepared, and I then decided to apply again a year later, and I was admitted into a program that was closer to home for me. So, you know, I say all that to say like, definitely, if you have a dream, especially when it comes to nursing school and knowing how long or how competitive the applicant pools are every year, don’t give up. Reapply. Cast a wide net. I moved from Sacramento over to the East Coast to go to nursing school. And sometimes you do have to take those risks and just remember that it’s so important to have the community of folks that will root for you because sometimes the noes, they do hurt along the way. But you know, as long as you have that community that you can reach out to for support, that’s what matters. That’s what we’ll get you through the rough times.

Rebecca Love:
You Know, the noes do hurt, and it is those to your point, it’s those communities, it’s your personal perseverance, it’s your belief and where you’re going. And I remember seeing a great quote from some other colleagues of mine who said, I believe in your future self. And I always thought to myself, that is such an amazing thing to believe, because these noes along the way, they can set you off your path, but you keep true to your North Star. Eventually, you’re going to get there, and I just am so glad that you didn’t give up. And for the audience, I don’t think that there is a good understanding of how competitive getting into nursing school is or the incredible prerequisite demands of up to two years of prerequisites that you have to take even before you can apply to nursing school if you’re not going into a traditional four-year bachelorette program. There is just such a traditional high amount of demand, and you finish all those prerequisites and you throw your applications. And I believe this last year, I think if the studies are right, nearly eighty-five percent of applicants were denied getting into nursing school. And there are about one hundred and eighty-eight thousand seats across the United States a year. And we have a huge nursing shortage, but it is really hard to get in. Mary Rose, do you have any other insight into that that you would like to share with the audience in regards to understanding the application process or the odds for nursing students at all that you would like to share something on?

Mary Rose Saint-Cyr:
I mean, the tip I would share to students is really connect to your health professions advising department on your campus, especially if you are considering an ABSN program. So you know, an absent program is an Accelerated Bachelors of Science and Nursing. So oftentimes those students have already completed their undergraduate degree and then they go on to these programs. So I would encourage a student to connect with health professions advising. And if they don’t have a health professions advisor on their campus, look at the neighboring institutions. They may have a health professional advisor at their institution, and oftentimes they offer free workshops. That’s how you build your network. That’s how you’re able to connect and find those resources. If you’re looking for support on developing your personal statement, or if you just need general advice on how to fund your education in nursing. As well as that, I know that there is a community within. I know that there is a community within online and on social media of nurses who are offering support for the admissions process. I’m always hesitant on recommending students to go that route because in no, by no way should you be paying for the support. I think there are so many organizations out there that are offering the support for free, so you really need to find that advisor who can then point you in the right direction.

Rebecca Love:
Mary Rose, that is just such excellent advice. And to your point, so many of us that got into nursing, we want to pay it forward, we want to support you. And I think we have this inherent belief and we’re a nursing student or nursing student that reaching out to somebody that they’re not going to hear you. And I think that’s that’s not necessarily true. And just like you said, it took you four years surrounded by these incredible nursing leaders and advocates to convince you you were ready, right? And so as we have this conversation, you have entered nursing school at a time in perhaps the darkest history of our health care system in the last hundred years. The news every day is showing the incredible burnout and leaving of the bedside nurses at droves that had been predicted to hit in another 10 years, but have been accelerated in ways that we haven’t seen today. Inherently, if I’m part of the audience, I’m thinking to myself, Oh my gosh, I was a nursing student today, I’m guessing I would be petrified or I’d be thinking to myself, What am I doing? Why am I becoming a nurse today? But my question to you is, why are you excited? Why are you still going to nursing school? What has you excited and why are you still doing this when everything that we’re seeing out there today seems to say that nursing is broken?

Mary Rose Saint-Cyr:
I mean, that is a great question, but you know, I’m not going to lie. There are times where I feel nervous about applying to nursing jobs right now. I’ll be taking the NCLEX this fall, so I’m really excited about that to sit for my board so that I can then really start job searching. And what has me excited is one, I think this is a great time. I think there is like the world has shined a light on the importance of nurses, on the importance of the profession, on the power of nurses within the health care system. So I’m just excited to be part of that community and really find where I fit in because, you know, I haven’t had years of bedside experience, so I don’t know what I’m walking into. But I’m just excited for what’s to come.

Rebecca Love:
Mary Rose, I love that finding your place in the seat, the table and the value of the world is shined a light on nursing in a way that has also never been experienced in our lifetime. And what does that mean for opportunity going forward for our profession? We need nursing leaders like you, and I am so honored and humbled that you are joining our profession. And I have to tell you, I talked to nursing leaders almost every week at this point in time, and this has been one of my favorite conversations. So tell me, how can people find you, Mary Rose?

Mary Rose Saint-Cyr:
All right, so you can find me on LinkedIn. My name is Mary Rose Saint-Cyr, and I believe they’ll also be included in the podcast notes. I’m currently working on a business since participating in the hackathon, so definitely check me out on LinkedIn.

Rebecca Love:
Tell us the name of that business. I think this is part of the excitement, and I know it feels awkward to talk about, but I think the audience is going to want to hear. you went to this hackathon. You have this experience. Now you’re in nursing school. Tell us, what is this business that you’re working on? What was the problem solution fit and tell us the name so they can not only check you out on LinkedIn, but also look up the company and support you as you keep growing.

Mary Rose Saint-Cyr:
Right. So my company is currently in the idea stage. So right now it’s tentatively called Nerds Pods. And what we’re looking to do is address the lack of diversity within the field of nursing through the use of virtual reality technology. My goal is really to expose high school students to the various career opportunities within the field of nursing through VR. This weekend, I’m actually starting a fellowship with Oculus Launchpad, which is part of Facebook. They are like one of the top VR companies in the country, and through that fellowship, I will learn more about the technology and ways in which that I can communicate with developers as I build out my business.

Rebecca Love:
Mary Rose. I love this, and it’s so in line with everything that you’ve been doing, so I am wishing you and our full audience is wishing you such success as you go and you develop nurse pods and show the world and the next generation of high school students through virtual reality, what their opportunities are and reflects what their future can be. So, Mary Rose Saint-Cyr, thank you so much for joining us on Outcomes Rocket Nursing.

Mary Rose Saint-Cyr:
Thank you.

Rebecca Love:
TSo our audience and everyone who’s listening, please check out Mary Rose Saint-Cyr on LinkedIn. She is one of what I know, I believe wholeheartedly is going to be one of the greatest nursing leaders that we see coming out of the next generation. Please follow her on LinkedIn. And for anyone who missed this episode, please go ahead and look the transcript. But more importantly, tune in again next time on Outcomes Rocket Nursing as we interview some of the most leading and innovative, exciting nurses in the world who are seeing the future of nursing differently. Thank you.

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Things You’ll Learn

  • Our firsthand experiences shape us in ways we don’t realize until later. 
  • Nursing schools should adopt a holistic admissions process. 
  • People go back and serve the communities they come from. 
  • Nurses don’t have to stay at the bedside to make a direct impact on a patient population. 
  • There are so many opportunities withun the nursing profession. 
  • If you want to change the trajectory of your life, you need to start taking risks. 
  • Find a community that will nurture and support you.
  • If you have a dream, don’t give up. Reapply. 
  • Believe in your future self. 
  • Keep true to your north star. 
  • Connect to your health professions advising department. 

 

Resource

Connect with Mary Rose on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mrsaintcyr