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PhD student aims to become faculty exemplar for underserved nursing students

William Mar, whose first language is Cantonese, is researching language barriers in health care

Languages have always fascinated William Mar, RN, MS. The PhD student in the Tan Chingfen Graduate School of Nursing grew up speaking Cantonese at home in New York City. For nearly 20 years, he spoke the language of computers, working as a software developer for a cell phone company.

But when his job moved to Florida, Mar said he did some soul-searching and decided to pursue a second career in nursing. He is now focused on language barriers in health care, inspired by his 88-year-old mother, So Lin Tow, who emigrated from Hong Kong.

“I've noticed a lot of barriers when it comes to nursing for people with limited English proficiency,” he said. “I’ve noticed that nurses don’t really go to interpretive services. I want to know what goes into the decision-making of the nurse to actually use interpretive services for patient care.”

Mar, an adjunct clinical instructor at Curry College and a nurse at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, is earning his PhD so that he can pursue a faculty position at an academic institution. Mar found it difficult to find mentors who looked like him when he went to nursing school. He wants to be a role model so nurses and faculty can mirror the patient population.

Watch the video to learn about Mar’s educational and career journey and why he loves teaching.

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.

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