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Nursing student Moriane Joseph pays it forward at MGH Institute

8/13/2008, 5:34 a.m.
Nursing student Moriane Joseph (left) and associate professor Janice Meisenhelder flank a “patient” in the simulation lab at...
Nursing student Moriane Joseph (left) and associate professor Janice Meisenhelder flank a “patient” in the simulation lab at MGH Institute of Health Professions. Joseph is entering her third year in the direct-entry Master of Science in Nursing program at the graduate school. MGH Institute of Health Professions

It didn’t take long for Moriane Joseph to want to give something back to her fellow students at MGH Institute of Health Professions.

Joseph, who is entering her third year in the direct-entry Master of Science in Nursing program at the graduate school, is mentoring new students as they begin the rigorous full-time course of study. By doing so, she is continuing a tradition that has become very popular at the school.

“As a first-year student, I had so many questions, I was fortunate to have a second-year nursing student as a mentor,” says the Cambridge native. “She was very, very helpful, and it made me feel like I needed to be a mentor for new students.”

Dr. Calvin Hill, the MGH Institute’s new chief diversity officer, says students of color like Joseph can have a major impact as the graduate school increases its efforts to mirror demographics in society.

“Moriane has been an influence [on] all our students, not only as a role model, but in helping faculty work cultural differences into their curriculum so students can be better prepared to give care to patients from all backgrounds,” Hill says.

Joseph, who has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in public health, decided to switch careers after seeing nurses interact with study volunteers while she was at the National Institutes of Health in Washington, D.C.

With Cambridge still home to her extended family — her parents emigrated from Haiti, and many relatives have joined them over the years — she decided this support system would offer her the best path to pursuing her new passion.

“Attending the MGH Institute has been an awesome experience,” she explains, noting the support, experience and dedication of the program’s faculty. “I have thoroughly enjoyed my clinical placements, and I feel I’ll be well prepared to become a nurse practitioner when I graduate next year.”

In addition to the master’s program — which is ranked in the top 10 percent of more than 700 such programs, according to U.S. News and World Report — college graduates with a degree in any field can apply for the school’s new 14-month Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing, while Master’s-prepared nurses can pursue a Doctor of Nursing Practice.

Associate Professor Dr. Janice Meisenhelder, who mentored Joseph during her first year, can’t say enough about her student.

“She went right in there on the first day and gave the students a pep talk that they responded to very well,” Meisenhelder says. “She was like a magnet to them and it made it OK for them to ask for assistance which is very important to getting through graduate school. You need students like Moriane to lead the way.”

The MGH Institute of Health Professions, founded by Massachusetts General Hospital in 1977, is adjacent to the USS Constitution in the historic Charlestown Navy Yard. The connection to the hospital, as well as the other hospitals within the Partners HealthCare system, was a main factor in Joseph’s decision to attend the school.

The MGH Institute, which has almost 900 students, also has Master’s programs in Physical Therapy (ranked seventh in the country by U.S. News and World Report), Speech-Language Pathology (ranked in the top 10 percent by U.S. News and World Report), and a certificate program in Medical Imaging.

The next general graduate information session is Saturday, Sept. 13, from 10 a.m. to noon; an information session just for the Accelerated BSN program will be held Wednesday, Sept. 24, from 6-8 p.m. For more information, go to www.mghihp.edu.