Nursing Graduate Reaches Goal, Decades in the Making
June 15, 2009
Even as a teenager, Elaine Makos knew exactly what she wanted to do with her life; graduate college and work in the nursing profession. Now a 65 year-old nurse at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Makos proudly walked down the aisle of Emmanuel College's 2009 Commencement ceremony to receive her Bachelor of Science in nursing degree, completing her goal after a 20 year pursuit.
Currently a staff nurse on the White 8 General Medical Unit at MGH, Makos is a true life-long learner. She began her journey in the nursing profession at the age of 20, working for 45 years in the field.
"When I was young I felt I was called to become a nurse," she said.
However, as a high school student, Makos was not offered much assistance from counselors regarding required courses or the necessary steps towards earning a degree, making it difficult for her to begin her studies.
Instead, she began her career in the nursing profession in 1964, working as a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) at Salem Hospital. She later earned her associate's degree in nursing from North Shore Community College, and in the late 1960s she began working toward her bachelor's degree. However, soon after beginning her courses, monthly mortgage payments and supporting a son through college quickly took priority over her own educational pursuits and Makos was unable to enroll as a full-time student.
Makos worked in a variety of health care settings, serving as a head nurse in acute care at Lynn Union Hospital, as the nursing supervisor of a group home for people with developmental disabilities, and a team leader with a Visiting Nurses Association. In 2004, as the nursing shortage worsened, she enrolled in a 12-week Transitioning to Practice Course at Northeastern University. That summer, she trained with a nursing preceptor at MGH. In the fall, she was hired as a staff nurse and has been with the hospital since.
While at Mass General, Makos's desire to earn her bachelor's degree resurfaced. Encouraged by co-worker and Emmanuel College alumna Maureen Thompson, she began to entertain the idea of returning to school once again. While Makos was eager to return to her studies, she quickly came to realize that prerequisite courses made it difficult for her to find the right fit at many colleges and institutions. Thompson helped to initiate a conversation with an enrollment counselor at Emmanuel and Makos was extremely impressed with the guidance offered throughout the enrollment process.
"I spoke with the enrollment counselor and we set up a plan that was very convenient for me," she said. "Emmanuel shows a lot of love and care towards its students. They treat us as individual adult learners and with a lot of understanding. I always knew that anytime I had a question or a problem, I did not need to hesitate to call."
It was with a great deal of support, mentoring and flexibility that Makos was able to achieve her educational goals. After working so long and never giving up on her dream, Makos and her family, friends and coworkers are proud of her accomplishment.
"The commitment she has demonstrated is a strong statement of her dedication to the nursing profession, her patients and their families," said MGH Nursing Director Colleen Gonzalez, RN, MSN. "The staff as a whole has recognized that she's made many personal sacrifices to complete her degree. We're so impressed. She is also a wonderful role model for less senior nurses as they learn to manage and balance their professional and personal lives."
Makos looks forward to continuing her life-long career in nursing as a college graduate.
"I love to work with younger nurses and be available for any questions they may have," she said. "But my place is at the bedside, I love patient care. I've done everything I'd hope to do throughout my career, but the bedside is where I belong, it is where I am right now, and where I'll be."