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Student Spotlight: Through Pediatric Nursing, Cassie Weis Seeks to Set an Example for Her Own Children

  By Gianluca D'Elia
  Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Headshot of Cassie Weis

Cassie Weis ’20N (MS) ’24N (DNP) spends most of her time working with children and infants as a pediatric nurse practitioner, so it’s fitting that her own daughter was her initial inspiration to pursue a nursing career.

“My decision to become a nurse came from my desire to be the best mom I could to my daughter. As a single mom at the time, I knew that I needed to find a secure career to support us, but I also desired to pursue something that would be fulfilling,” Weis recalled.

Weis started her health care career by earning a liberal arts degree and becoming a registered nurse at Finger Lakes Community College, followed by pursuing her bachelor’s at nearby St. John Fisher University.

Throughout her education, Weis said her experiences affirmed that she was built for this profession.

Family photo of Cassie Weis, husband Nicholas, and three children standing in front of green trees.“Every element of nursing has impacted my life in a positive manner and opened me up to a world where I can impact others, pursue change, and become a role model for my children,” she said. “If I didn't pursue nursing, I wouldn't have met my husband (fellow nurse Nicholas Weis) and have the life I always dreamed of having and providing for my family.”

Why did you choose UR Nursing?

The University of Rochester had a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner program that fit well with my future goals. I wanted to work exclusively with children and infants. At the time, I transferred from Rochester General Hospital's General Inpatient Pediatric floor to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, where I feel like I thrived and found a sense of community in that unit. I was part of a large cohort starting the PNP track with other NICU nurses and gained amazing friends, invaluable experience, and a passion to be the best advocate for children that I would be.

I decided in the middle of my PNP program that I would continue on with my Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree at the University of Rochester because the School of Nursing has fostered exponential professional and personal growth.

What have you enjoyed the most about your experience at the School of Nursing? Who has made an impact on you in your time here?

I am so grateful to Drs. Ann Leonhardt-Caprio, Jamie Oliva, Sue Ciurzynski, and Erin Baylor for guiding me in my UR Nursing journey.

I had so many excellent preceptors during my clinical experiences including Laurie Athans DNP, RN, CNL, CCRN-K, Rose Burnett, NP, Theresa Foito, NP, Marsha Pulhamus, NP, Lisa Augostini, NP, Cyndi tenHoopen, NP, Carly Dickinson, NP, Dr. Gary Meyers, Dr. Neil Herendeen, Brenda Seaman NP, Dr. Georgia Lowmaster, NP, and Jill Bernhardt, NP to name a few.

And of course, one cannot go through nursing school without a bestie to share the good, the bad, and the ugly: Shannon (Creedon) Ferguson, PNP.

I've enjoyed the community that I've developed in the School of Nursing and feeling like I can make a difference.

Can you tell us about your DNP scholarly project?

My DNP project, "Establishing an Evidence-Based Breastfeeding-Friendly Practice to Improve Breastfeeding Rates," was successfully defended to the DNP committee on March 8. The project utilized the New York State Department of Health Breastfeeding Friendly Primary Care Implementation guideline, adapted to a local rural pediatric primary care clinic. It ultimately improved 2-month breastfeeding rates by 58.4 percent from the needs assessment benchmark and exclusive breastfeeding rates at 6-months were higher than both state and national averages.

Can you tell us a little bit about your current role and what makes it rewarding to you? Is there anything you have found surprising?

I currently work at Canandaigua Medical Group Pediatric Primary Care and I absolutely love it. I work collaboratively with physicians, social workers, nurses, administration, and other staff members to ensure our patients are taken care of. I've bonded with so many families here and I am honored to care for all these wonderful children that come to see me.

Surprisingly, I've become a good resource for topics like mental health, neuro-divergent conditions like Autism, ADHD, OCD, tic disorders, and behavioral concerns. Also, teenagers aren't as scary as many people think.

Cassie Weis and her son walk at the Strong Stroll.

What are your favorite things about Rochester? 

I love many things about the Rochester Area. My favorite places to go are California Rollin II on the Port, Taki Sushi in Webster, the Strong Museum of Play and, the Rochester Museum & Science Center.

What do you do when you’re not at school or work?

I am an amateur furniture flipper and self-proclaimed interior designer. I love to bake banana bread and watch Dance Moms with my daughter as a funny bonding opportunity. I love anime and dream of going to the San Diego Comic Con. I wanted to be an animator before I became a nurse so anything involving digital media is my favorite. I run sometimes in local 5Ks like the Strong Stroll, and love being around my family. I have some awesome kids and the husband is pretty awesome too.

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Categories: DNP, Nurse Practitioner Programs, Alumni

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