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Leadership Student Profile: Lisa Newell, BS, RN

Lisa Newell, BS, RN

Student, Leadership in Health Care Systems Master's program
ACT Team RN III, Strong Ties Community Support Clinic
RN, Department of Psychiatry, UR Medicine

Lisa Newell works at the Strong Ties Community Support Clinic as a nurse on the Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) team. The ACT team provides intensive outreach mental health services to individuals with serious mental disorders who do not readily access traditional clinic services in the community. As part of the ACT team, Newell helps provide in-home services to patients within the Monroe County region, including medication education, service linkage, transportation to appointments, COVID-related vaccines, grocery shopping, etc. She has a secondary appointment in the psychiatric emergency room.

Why did you decide to pursue your master's degree?

I have been a nurse since 1988. I went right into psychiatry out of nursing school. Nearly 20 years ago I began to work at Strong and enrolled in the bachelor's program. Then life caught up to me.

About three years ago, I finally compiled by bachelor’s degree after many years of a chunk of lapse. My children were older. I had one course left in the program after all those years, finished it, then immediately enrolled in the master’s program, directly thereafter. I decided to pursue my master's because I love education.

How did the SON Tuition Grant impact your decision?

I’m very thirsty for education and the tuition benefits are great at UofR. However with the tuition grant, it makes them even more stellar because it's 100 percent covered. I was already interested in school, but it kind of sealed the deal that I would be able to not have to come up with that 10 percent difference.

"The School of Nursing appreciates the level of stress that people are under ... just very supportive overall. It’s been a wonderful experience."

Why did you choose the Leadership in Health Care Systems program? What's your experience been like?

I chose the program because I had heard wonderful things about it from peers along the way. I'’'ve always been interested in leadership, the principles of leadership. I’ve worked in leadership positions in the past, and I’ve always been interested in continuing to broaden my interest in it.

The program has a heavy layer of population health as well, which has been complementary with the whole pandemic, with all of the types of patients that I deal with. The coursework has just been right on par for what I’m dealing with on a daily basis.

How have you been able to balance work and this program?

It’s been challenging here or there, depending on how many credit hours per semester. But the School of Nursing really wants nurses to succeed and really during the time I’ve been in – during COVID primarily – they have bent over backwards to support, to make accommodations, to be kind, to be supportive in ways you wouldn’t even understand unless you were in it.

But they’ve just all been wonderful. They can really appreciate the level of stress that people are under because of extra hours people are pulling, low staffing, the patients....just very supportive overall. It’s been a wonderful experience.

What are your future career goals?

"Whatever leadership qualities that I can bring to improve my patient's health, that’s the goal of my education.

I haven’t quite decided what I am going to do, but I’m not going to stop in May. I’ll be continuing in some capacity with school. And I’ll stay in my current ambulatory psych nurse (role). I love my job, and I love my patients.

Even though I’m in a leadership program, where you would think that the next path would be a leadership position, I’m not traditional in my thoughts for that, because I already consider myself in a leadership position but more toward my patients versus staff. Whatever leadership qualities that I can bring for them to have improved health, that’s the goal of my education.

How has the University of Rochester supported your goals as a nurse?

I wonder often if I would have continued right after the bachelor's was completed had it not been for the tuition grant, and I may not have, honestly, because there’s competing life priorities for finances.

If I had to choose between myself continuing or putting that money toward my children’s education, obviously I would have picked them. But to be able to have it all happen was just perfect. I could have easily put it on hold for another couple of years until they completed their schooling, but I didn’t have to and that was huge.

And now I’m a role model for them, too, because they’re in school and they’re adults – young adults – but to be able to see that education doesn’t stop at whatever age has been really helpful.

They see me writing papers, they see me studying for tests, they see me checking Blackboard, and they’re doing the same things. It is really important for me to be able to demonstrate the importance of education to them.

Any advice for other nurses considering going back to school at the School of Nursing?

Oh definitely. I’m in school with a lot of nurses in a whole variety of ages. Some have very young children, some have just given birth during my program, some have college-age students. We talk about that a lot – about being role models for the younger population, whether it’s children or whether it’s our peers at work.

But I think we all agree as nurses – at least the nurses that I’ve talked to – that being able to show our own children that just because you graduate doesn’t mean it ends. Especially for nursing, it just continues forever. But in a good way.

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