Last year, Curry College School of Nursing students and roommates Kaylee Doherty ‘22 and Zoe Scangas ’22 were both awarded highly selective scholarships through the Veterans Association (VA) Health Professional Scholarship Program (HPSP) for their senior years.
Doherty said she applied for the scholarship because she had done a student clinical at the West Roxbury VA Medical Center. “I loved working there. The veterans are so kind, and I loved listening to them talk about their past.”
The HPSP scholarships cover tuition and provide a monthly stipend. After graduation, students are contracted to a one-year residency program at a VA hospital where they explore different nursing specialties to determine the area that best suits them. Then they are placed at a VA where their chosen specialty is needed the most. There is an 18-month service obligation after the residency.
Curry alumna Jessica Ash ’08 is a VA nursing recruiter for the residency programs in the Boston area. “What’s great about the residency is that new nurse graduates are fully supported from being a student to becoming a nurse,” said Ash.
Doherty and Scangas said they are excited to start the residency program next September. Currently, there are three 2021 Curry School of Nursing graduates in the Post-Baccalaureate Nurse Residency Program at the West Roxbury VA--Kelsie Merrill, Sarah Vaughan, and Michelle Armes—and Tatum Mahoney ‘21 is in the “Transition To Practice Program” on a surgical telemetry unit.
Ash said, “Working for the VA is an entirely different culture. It’s veteran centric, where everyone is here to serve veterans. Because it’s not health insurance dependent, we can focus on what we call ‘whole health.’ We aren’t just worried about their immediate issue, but can focus on their whole person and maximize their treatment.”
Doherty and Scangas today hold leadership roles in the Curry College Student Nursing Association (CCSNA) on campus, but both said when they started their first year, they were unsure about becoming nurses.
“Coming in as a first-year, I was hesitant with the idea of being a nurse and taking care of others,” said Scangas. “But as I progressed in the program, I found a love for nursing and formed such a bond with the other nursing students. They pushed me to be my best and have shaped me into the nurse I’m supposed to be. I’ve grown so much.”
Doherty said that their professors were also part of that process. “They are amazing, and they always guided us in the right direction. They’ve showed me what it means to be a good nurse and a good person,” said Doherty.