Graduate Entry Pathway pinning launches advanced practice nursing careers

Thirty doctoral nursing students kick off Convocation Week 2017 with an oath to serve

By Sandra Gray

UMass Medical School Communications

September 12, 2017
  • Nursing pins are ready for the Graduate Entry Pathway Class of 2020 Pinning Ceremony.
  • The 30 class members assemble before the ceremony.
  • GEP Director Jesica Pagano-Therrien, PhD, welcomes guests to the ceremony.
  • Joan Vitello, PhD, dean of the Graduate School of Nursing, shares her passion for the profession.
  • (From left,) award winners Hannah Simon-Girard, Heather Patrick, Adam Bliss, Stephanie DiTomasso, Rebecca LaMay, and Brianna Leonard.
  • Rebecca Harris reads the history of the pin.
  • Andrew Ahearn stands with Dean Vitello after receiving his pin.
  • Marta Escriu-Sune is pinned by Dean Vitello.
  • The class recites the oath together.
  • Cheers go up for pinned GEP students including Sara Rittenhouse (left) and Sarah Smith.

The Graduate School of Nursing’s annual Graduate Entry Pathway Pinning Ceremony kicked off Convocation Week at UMass Medical School on Sept. 11 when 30 doctoral students received pins symbolizing their entry into the nursing profession.

“The pin you receive is a badge of honor,” said Chancellor Michael F. Collins. “We are proud that you will wear a pin throughout your nursing career with the name of our school on it.”

The GSN established the GEP program in 2003 to address the nursing shortage in Central Massachusetts, offering accelerated training for students who have bachelor’s degrees in fields other than nursing. The annual ceremony 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, executives, scientists and educators.

The program attracts adults with varied work experiences as well as recent college graduates. Career changer Andrew Ahearn, a GEP student, will transfer his customer service skills to patient care.

“I like the interactions, knowing people by name, even connecting with families through generations,” said Ahearn, of Worcester, a former HVAC technician who graduated from Worcester State in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in business management. “I can form those kinds of relationships with my patients as a family nurse practitioner. I’m very pleased with my decision.”

He said he learned about the GEP Program through his siblings who work in health care, one a registered nurse who supervised a student from the program and another who completed part of his pharmacist residency at UMMS.

With master’s degrees in public health and global conflict transformation and peace studies, GEP student Hannah Simon-Girard has worked around the world in medically underserved and resource-poor settings with survivors of adverse life events and traumatic violence including war and genocide.

“What brought me to the GEP program was the desire to bring my public health work to the next level with clinical training,” said Simon-Girard, who grew up in Adams, Mass. “I find you have an even greater place at the table and a greater voice within population health as a clinician.”

She plans to also earn certification in behavioral and mental health and continue working in an underserved community—perhaps in her native northwestern Massachusetts, a rural area with a dearth of health care providers.

Six students earned honors for exceptional achievement during their first year of nursing studies. Brianna Leonard received the Award for Academic Excellence; Rebecca LaMay and Stephanie DiTommaso both received the Award for Clinical Excellence; Adam Bliss was the recipient of the Spirit of Nursing Award; and Heather Patrick and Hannah Simon-Girard each accepted a Community Engagement Award.

“Today is a special day because it is the day that we are pinned as registered nurses,” said class speaker Angelina Coco. “We will no longer introduce ourselves as the student nurse. Our hard work has finally paid off.”

The formal program concluded with the class reciting the Graduate Entry Pathway pledge in unison, followed by a celebration with family, friends and faculty.

The Graduate Entry Pathway Class of 2020

Andrew Ahearn
Krystal Lynn Amaral
Adam Baskin
Adam Bliss
Paul Thomas Bruemmer
Meghan Chenausky
Angelina Maria Coco
Stephanie Mia DiTommaso
Lydia J. Doskocil
Marta Escriu-Sune
Hannah Simon-Girard
Ashley Jennifer Goddard
Asia Monet Hall
Rebecca Lynn Harris
Terese Andrea Holm

Hajar Houmani
Nora Grace Jarvis
Elizabeth Anne Kern
Rebecca LaMay
Danielle Marie Lapierre
Brianna Nicole Leonard
Monica Nagy Mikael
Lauren Sullivan Ostman
Heather Patrick
David R. Raymond
Sara Melissa Rittenhouse
Sarah Elizabeth Smith
Alyssa Beth Thompson-Tucker
Harley Waterhouse
Lindsey Ilyssa Weiss