Student Spotlight: Nicole Hoogasian, MSN/FNP
As an RN, Hoogasian was looking to educate patients on their diagnoses in a way that they could understand – and find treatments that fit their lifestyles. It's one of the reasons she decided to earn her MSN/FNP.
As a registered nurse on a medical-surgical floor, Nicole Hoogasian MSN/FNP ’18 has seen her fair share of repeat visitors. And, as someone who is passionate about providing the best possible patient care, that can be frustrating.
“I noticed I was seeing the same patients come in and out of the hospital, each time with little to no improvement in their health status,” said Hoogasian. “This was difficult for me because I always wanted to know more, find the deeper meaning in what was going on, develop a stronger rapport with them and their families, and educate them on what they could be doing to avoid coming back to the hospital and live a fuller life at home.”
Hoogasian was looking to educate patients on their diagnoses in a way that they could understand – and find treatments that fit their lifestyles.
This goal was one of the reasons she decided to pursue Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree with a family nurse practitioner (FNP) specialty.
“Working as a family nurse practitioner will allow me to care for patients in the primary care setting, with the ultimate goal of promoting wellness so these patients can live healthy, fulfilling lives with their families at home,” said Hoogasian.
For Hoogasian, knowing that she is making an impact on the lives of her patients is a rewarding feeling. “It is the reason I went into nursing in the first place – to help people,” said Hoogasian. “If I can improve a patient’s life, even in a small way, I will do everything in my power to do so.”
In our interview, Hoogasian, who is a member of the Phi Kappa Phi and Sigma Theta Tau International honor societies, shares insight into her experience as a student at MCPHS and how interprofessional education is empowering her to become the best nurse possible.
Why did you choose to earn your MSN/FNP at MCPHS?
I chose MCPHS to earn my MSN/FNP degree because it had several key elements that I wanted out of a master’s program. There were virtually no other schools in Massachusetts that offered a master’s-level FNP program with classes on campus. Many schools are moving toward either online-only programs or programs that offer only a doctorate. I did not have the time or finances to go to school for another three or four years to get my doctoral degree, so this master’s program was the best fit for me.
Tell us about your experiences in the classroom.
My favorite course that I’ve taken has been the core nursing adult course, NUR 810. I really enjoyed this course because I had 90 clinical hours already under my belt from health assessment the previous semester, so now I could really put my knowledge to the test and try to properly diagnose and treat patients. It is a learning process, especially if you precept in family health center, because there is such a vast amount of knowledge to master, but every day you learn a little bit more. I felt significantly more comfortable doing a history and physical on patients by the end of this rotation, and I finally felt like a real nurse practitioner.
As a student in our on-campus FNP program, you attend class on campus just one day a week. How does that flexible schedule help you as a working nurse?
If you need to work while taking classes (which is the case for most individuals pursuing an advanced degree!), this program is very flexible. Having class one day a week is very helpful, because it allows you to still get hours in at work, especially during the first year. Once you start clinical placements, most people cut down on their work hours so they have more time to complete clinical hours and assignments for class. It can seem overwhelming at first, but it is possible!
At MCPHS, interprofessional collaboration is a way of life. How do you collaborate with students in other professional programs on campus?
We attend three interprofessional education [IPE] days at MCPHS, where students from all professions (undergraduate nursing, physical therapy, optometry, physician’s assistant, FNP, and pharmacy) get together in the banquet room to discuss patient scenarios and share clinical experiences. You are placed at a table with students from other professions, and you work together to solve a patient problem. At one IPE day, we discussed the opioid epidemic and were trained on how to use Narcan, which I thought was great because it is a very relevant problem in the city of Worcester and across America.
How do your professors work to support you or mentor you?
Our professors are always there to help and answer questions. Many professors go as far as to give us their cell phone numbers in case we need to ask them a question on a weekend! They are very supportive and experienced. During class they often give examples of their own clinical experiences to help us understand the content better.
Tell us about the facilities on campus. What are they like?
The facilities on campus are state of the art. The two buildings we are in for classes are spacious and clean. The library is very nice – always quiet – and gives you a place to work and print out any materials you may need. The lab we use for a health assessment class simulates a real doctor’s office and has all the medical equipment you need to practice your skills.
What do you like about the Worcester campus?
I like that the Worcester campus is downtown, and you only need to walk a short distance to get to most of the buildings. The two buildings we’ve had classes in are right across the street from each other. There are also a lot of restaurants surrounding campus, so it is easy to find a place to eat lunch during our break. I currently live in the city of Worcester, and it is a bigger city than many people imagine! There are a lot of activities and easy access to the highway if you live on campus but want to travel somewhere else.
Why would you recommend an MCPHS education?
I would recommend MCPHS because it is an excellent school, with experienced and helpful professors. I would specifically recommend the FNP program because it is reasonably priced compared to programs at other surrounding private schools, it still offers a master’s degree, it is part time and flexible, and there are a lot of local hospitals and offices nearby for clinical placements.
What are your future career aspirations?
My future career aspirations are to work in a family health center so I can continue expanding my knowledge base and work with patients of all ages. The remarkable and unique part of being certified as a family nurse practitioner is that you can work with patients of all ages, so if during your career you find you enjoy one clinical area or specialty more than another, you can change it at any time. I hope to develop a strong rapport with my patients, promote wellness, and recognize and promptly treat any of their acute or chronic illnesses. I found during my pediatric training that I greatly enjoyed working with children and adolescents, so I may eventually pursue the possibility of working in a school-based health clinic or something similar later down the road. In ten years, I hope to have experience in several different clinical areas so I can find my niche, and the area I can most positively impact my patients.
The Master of Science in Nursing – Family Nurse Practitioner program at MCPHS builds on your bachelor’s degree in nursing to empower you to advance your career with a specialty in family nursing practice. This 24-month part-time program is offered online or on campus.