As a high school student Benjamin Craig's motto was, "Here's my plate, load it on." He brought that mentality with him to Emmanuel, where he has always been ready to take on a new opportunity.
After more than a decade as an RN, Castella Edward MSN '16 decided take the next step in her career, building upon experience to enhance her daily practice, take a more active role in policy review and more.
Castella Edward MSN '16 moved to Boston about 20 years ago to live with her sister, who was already nearly a decade into her nursing career. She often listened to her sister recount her work experiences,the joy and satisfaction when her patients' health improved as well as the pain when their outcomes were less than desired.
After high school, Castella enrolled at Bunker Hill Community College and became a nursing assistant, with the ultimate goal of becoming a registered nurse.
"This was the best decision I ever made," she said. "I have spent the last 18 years at New England Baptist Hospital, 11 of those years as a registered nurse on the very same unit I spent Friday nights with my sister more than 20 years ago."
After earning her BSN in 2011, she knew she wanted to pursue graduate study. She enrolled in an online Master of Science in Information Technology Program, but withdrew after one semester due to the lack of face-to-face interaction. Her nurse manager at New England Baptist Hospital was enrolled in Emmanuel's MSN program at the time, and encouraged her to apply. While at Emmanuel, Castella felt "immensely supported" by the faculty, staff and her fellow students. She also became close with her cohort of fellow nurses on the management track; they quickly got to know each other's strengths and weaknesses, and diverse backgrounds, roles and work experiences.
The only staff nurse in the group, Castella initially felt at a disadvantage because she lacked the managerial skills needed for the finance course. She credits the text messages, e-mails and phone calls from a classmate and nursing manager for helping her through the difficult time learning the "foreign language" of nursing finance.
"This is one example of the many long-term relationships established on the MSN journey that allowed me, and others, to successfully complete the program," she said.
During the busy months of juggling work, school and social activities, Castella also drew strength from the personalized attention of Emmanuel's nursing faculty. She described one faculty member's classes in particular as encouraging, entertaining and educational, and that her efforts to ensure practicum placements went above and beyond, honoring each student's preference and smoothing out any bumps with the sites.
"I recall coming to class after practicum with such excitement to discuss what I'd learned when I realized that she was more excited to hear about our experiences than we were ready to discuss," Castella said. "She wanted all of us to succeed."
Castella "could write an entire book on her practicum experiences" in the nursing quality department at Brigham & Women's Hospital. From her supervisor, she learned valuable problem-solving techniques in the areas of informatics and conflict avoidance—particularly in high pressure situations. In her day-to-day work at NEBH, she is "effectively using all the skills and knowledge I learned during my practicum and through the MSN program at Emmanuel."
"I want to ensure the future of nursing by instructing future generations and passing on the knowledge and skills I have acquired," she said. She has served in the role of clinical instructor at MCPHS University and UMass Boston since 2016. She also chose to remain at the bedside at NEBH, an area where patient problems originate, and she works closely with the nursing quality department at her hospital to improve patient care outcomes and help achieve the journey of excellence—magnet status.
Since graduating from Emmanuel's MSN program , Castella notes her daily clinical practice and critical thinking abilities have improved. She earned a graduate certificate in healthcare informatics from UMass Boston in 2017. She has also had the opportunity to co-chair her hospital's unit-based practice council, which has led to projects such as noise reduction to improve patient satisfaction. She is actively involved in policy review and her own initiative of "nursing engagement," which is designed to encourage nurses to take charge of their practice and have a voice.