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The Nutcracker Nurse: Ballerina steps into nursing role through UMass Chan’s Graduate Entry Pathway program

Melanie Ostiguy’s ballet students were inspired to pursue health care careers after she told them she was studying to become a nurse. Ostiguy, now a registered nurse, pivoted from teaching ballet and working as a per-diem secretary at Heywood Hospital in Gardner to enrolling in the Graduate Entry Pathway (GEP) program in the Tan Chingfen Graduate School of Nursing at UMass Chan Medical School in 2021. The GEP program is for aspiring advanced practice nurses who have a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing.

“As I got to know my secretarial position and the health care setting, I started to become more interested in what I could do on the other side of the desk,” said Ostiguy. “I find nursing compelling because it challenges me to think critically about everything I do.”

A West Brookfield resident, Ostiguy earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in dance from UMass Amherst in 2017. She performed in “The Nutcracker” at Pioneer Valley Ballet in Easthampton this year after taking a brief hiatus to focus on her nursing studies.

“I find that my history as a dancer complements my work in the hospital,” Ostiguy said. “It makes for a great conversation starter to cheer people up. Once in a while, I have a patient who danced when they were little or has kids who dance. It’s a fun way to bring up our lives in a positive way.”

As an elementary school student, Ostiguy roamed the aisles of the Lamar Soutter Library while her mother earned her degree here.

“My mother is super supportive,” Ostiguy said. “I’m texting her after class: ‘Hey, I have a question on this. What’s this about?’ I’ve worked with her now and I have a new found appreciation for nursing from watching how she handles situations and how she loves her profession.”

Ostiguy’s goal is to become a nurse practitioner in an intensive care unit.

Listen to the Voices of UMass Chan podcast to hear the full interview with Melanie Ostiguy.

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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