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Theresa Salvatore

Theresa Salvatore, BSN '09: Running for a Cure

  • After graduating from the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program in 2009, Theresa Salvatore's friends convinced her to sign up for a half marathon. It didn't take long before she caught the "running bug" and was signed up for her first full marathon.

    Theresa's father had been running marathons since 2002 and so in 2012, she and her father ran their first race together, the Newport Amica Marathon. After her father was diagnosed with metastatic oropharyngeal cancer in May of 2017, they made it their goal to run the 2018 Boston Marathon together in support of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, where he received his care.

    We caught up with Theresa to learn more about what she has been up to since graduating from MCPHS and why running means so much to her.

    You've been a runner since you finished your undergraduate studies at MCPHS. Tell us what running means to you.

    Running has become an essential part of my life. Not only does it benefit my physical health, but a run can also be very emotionally healing. Running has connected me to so many amazing friends and brought my dad and me closer together.

    Your father is also an avid runner. What does it mean to you to be able to run the Boston Marathon with him?

    My dad has been a runner for as long as I can remember. He started running marathons in 2002 and I thought he was crazy until I figured it out myself in 2012. He has run nine marathons. He qualified for Boston the first time in 2004 and ran the 2005 Boston Marathon. He didn’t have his best race that day and has been on a mission to qualify and run it again ever since. He succeeded at the Detroit Free Press/Chemical Bank Marathon in October 2016 by winning first place in his age group. That trip was also the first time we noticed a funny lump on his neck. Seven months later he was diagnosed with metastatic oropharyngeal cancer. He has been determined not to let the cancer get in the way of his journey back to the Boston Marathon. He wore a marathon shirt to every radiation, chemotherapy, and surgical appointment he had and made sure all of his providers knew that he would beat this and go on to run the 122nd Boston Marathon. I knew this had to be the year that I joined him.

    My dad has been an inspiration for me in many ways throughout my life. He’s taught me to persevere and to never underestimate what I’m capable of. There really aren’t words to describe how happy I’ll be to cross the finish line with him on April 16th, 2018!

    You will be running the Boston Marathon for the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge (DFMC). Tell us more about that.

    Running for the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge (DFMC) was an easy choice! Going to school on Longwood Ave at MCPHS and working at Boston Children’s Hospital, I’ve been aware of the amazing work that Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) does for a long time. Then my dad received all of his cancer treatments in the Boston area, including his radiation oncologist who is a DFCI physician. So I now have DFCI to thank for my dad’s health. I not only get to run the Boston Marathon with my dad, I also get to raise a bunch of money for cancer research! My goal is to raise $10,000, but I’d love to surpass that!

    It has long been a dream for my father and I to run the Boston Marathon together. While we never dreamed of doing so under such emotional circumstances, my father’s tough battle with cancer has given me the opportunity to fulfill this dream while simultaneously contributing to the fight against cancer.

    You currently work as a family nurse practitioner at a health center in Arizona. What inspired you to pursue a career as a nurse?

    I am a third generation nurse. Both my mother and grandmother were nurses, so I think it might be in my blood. However, I didn’t realize it until I started college without a decided major and really enjoyed my cellular and molecular biology course. After researching different healthcare professions I was drawn to the multitude of opportunities and hands-on patient care that nursing provides. I transferred the next year to start the nursing program at MCPHS.

    You went on to earn your Master of Science in Nursing from Georgetown University in 2015. How did your undergraduate experience at MCPHS prepare you for the MSN program at Georgetown?

    The nursing program at MCPHS was very challenging. I learned the work ethic necessary to survive a rigorous graduate program. I also had some wonderful mentors that always encouraged me to excel. There was a strong focus on academics and I knew even before I graduated in 2009 that I would go on to earn an advanced degree (maybe more than one someday!).

    What’s your advice for students who are currently in our nursing program?

    Get involved! Volunteer at one of the amazing Boston hospitals or work as a nursing assistant part-time. The hands on experience is so valuable for putting everything you’re learning in the classroom together. Also, get involved with the local nursing associations. Nursing needs strong leaders in a rapidly changing world of healthcare and it’s great to have a network of nursing professionals to collaborate with!

    Why did you choose MCPHS?

    I started undergrad at Emmanuel College around the corner. I love Boston and I was working in the pharmacy at Boston Children’s Hospital at the time and wanted to stay in the area. I looked into Northeastern and MCPHS. I had some great conversations with some of the faculty at MCPHS before I enrolled and was encouraged by the academic rigor and competitiveness of the program. I also liked that the program was accelerated and I was able to start my career a couple of years earlier.

    Tell us more about your current role.

    I currently work for North Country HealthCare (NCHC) in northern Arizona. It is a network of federally qualified health centers that brings comprehensive care to rural Arizona. Our goal is to serve the entire community, including those that are uninsured or underinsured. As a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP), I work as a primary care provider and see a very diverse population. I manage complex chronic diseases and treat acute conditions while constantly focusing on health promotion and disease prevention. I love the work I do.

    Every day is different so I am never bored! I also love when I am able to make a difference in a patient’s health. I moved to the primary care setting so that I could have more time to impact long term health outcomes.

    What are your future career aspirations?

    I will eventually go back to school for my Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). I have been an FNP for about two years now and I’m still learning new things every day. I’m sure I’ll be ready when I am more established in my career. Getting my DNP will help for when I am ready to take on a leadership role.

    Follow Theresa and her father's running journey on Instagram @theresarunsdfmc. The accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program offers an immersive education that prepares students for an exciting career as a registered nurse. Already a nurse but looking to advance your career? Check out the new Doctor of Nursing Practice program.