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Family tragedy solidifies diabetes researcher’s decision to earn nursing degree

Nisha Naik sees a need for nurse practitioners specializing in mental health

By Kaylee Pugliese and Colleen Locke

UMass Chan Medical School Communications

August 01, 2022

As a clinical research assistant at Joslin Diabetes Center, Nisha Naik, RN, saw the bond nurse practitioners formed with their patients and realized she wanted to pursue a career in health care. She enrolled in the Graduate Entry Pathway (GEP) program at the Tan Chingfen Graduate School of Nursing at UMass Chan Medical School, where she become a registered nurse after a year of instruction and is working toward her Doctor of Nursing Practice. Her timing was fortuitous, as she was able to care for a close relative in her time of need after obtaining her RN.

“The fact that I had that year of GEP allowed me to provide some really significant care to my aunt in her final days, before she passed away from ovarian cancer,” Naik said. “And while that was a very difficult experience, it was also something that really solidified for me how necessary it is to have good nurses and empathetic nurses out there. And it just made me grateful that the education I received at UMass Chan was one that allowed me to be an effective nurse for my aunt.”

Naik is in UMass Chan’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program, on the Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Track. She is the first advanced practice nursing student to volunteer with the Worcester Asylum Clinic, a student-run clinic that has historically been supported by students from the T.H. Chan School of Medicine. She’s hoping to let other nursing students know about this opportunity so that they too can support refugees and asylum seekers.

“I think health care as a whole is moving toward a very interdisciplinary approach. You really can’t accomplish much in the health care setting unless you’re working as a team with a multitude of different specialties,” Naik said.

Naik’s parents moved from India to New Hampshire before she was born. She was born and raised in Bow, New Hampshire. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Bates College, with concentrations in chemistry and public health. She is currently working as an RN at the Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center’s Medication-Assisted Treatment Program, helping patients with substance use disorder. Naik said she chose UMass Chan to specialize in mental health while earning her DNP. She has a passion for integrated behavioral health care.

“I think there’s a huge need for mental health in primary care. I think it’s a very unknown and stigmatized issue that people face when they have psych conditions. I’d like to work with patients who might have co-morbid psych conditions and also consult in the inpatient setting for patients who have psych conditions that aren’t necessarily being dealt with effectively,” Naik said.

The Student Spotlight series features UMass Chan Medical School students in the Morningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Tan Chingfen Graduate School of Nursing and T.H. Chan School of Medicine. For more information about UMass Chan Medical School and how to apply, visit the Prospective Students page.

Related UMass Chan news stories:
Nursing student and former accountant takes her critical thinking skills to “higher level” in care of patients
Inspired by his own care team, nursing student aims to work in mental health
First-year nursing student aims to amplify diversity on road to becoming nurse practitioner