Jillian Brooke Rush ’23 got an early start on her nursing education. After earning her CNA license in high school, she became a licensed practical nurse at age 18. She enjoys supporting and comforting patients and their families, which has led her to pursue a rewarding specialty that is very different from those of her fellow nursing graduates. After Commencement, she plans to work with geriatric patients as a hospice nurse.
UMass Dartmouth experience
Why did you choose UMassD and your area of study?
"I chose the College of Nursing & Health Sciences at UMass Dartmouth for two reasons. The college is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and, since I live in the surrounding area, the location is ideal for a commuter student."
How has your experience been at the university and in CNHS?
"I’ve enjoyed my experience at UMass Dartmouth. Starting from freshman orientation, I felt welcome and part of my new college community. Throughout the years, I made meaningful lifelong connections with my fellow peers and faculty and have gained experience to enhance my professional nursing practice."
What inspired you to become a nurse?
"I find helping others to be a very fulfilling experience and, after earning my CNA license in high school, I continued my education to become a licensed practical nurse at 18 years old. Supporting and comforting those in need is intrinsically motivating to me, so I have found the nursing profession to be emotionally rewarding, despite its challenges.
"Earning my bachelor’s degree in nursing was the next step in continuing my nursing education to be able to help others. After taking a year to gain experience by working full-time as a practical nurse, I decided to take the next step and applied to UMass Dartmouth’s BSN program."
Is there a project or clinical experience that has made a special impact on you?
"Though it’s difficult to choose amongst all the experiences I’ve had here, I would say my mentorship clinicals at New England Hospice have been extremely rewarding. Mentorship allowed me to practice nursing with my preferred specialty, hospice nursing. Being able to help and bring comfort to those clients and their families has been an extremely powerful experience that I will not soon forget.
"I currently work as a Wellness Nurse (LPN) at The Cottages at Dartmouth Village, an assisted living facility, where I've greatly enjoyed connecting with my coworkers and residents over the past six years. In this role, I often collaborate with local hospice nurses to coordinate care for the residents that receive hospice benefits. I recognize how valuable these additional services are and admire those that can deliver this type of care so compassionately and hope to be able to branch out into hospice nursing after earning my RN."
How has your experience been in learning from and working with faculty members at UMassD?
"Learning from and working with the UMass Dartmouth faculty has been a joy. All of those I have crossed paths with have been extremely knowledgeable and helpful. No matter the size of the class, the CNHS faculty always made time for whoever needed help, got to know their students, and showed the support and compassion that nursing practice should exemplify."
What do you think makes UMassD special?
"The sense of community is what makes UMassD special. I wasn’t expecting such a close-knit community considering the size of the school, however, I was pleasantly surprised."
What did you enjoy most?
"Throughout my four years I loved meeting new people, whether they were my peers, faculty members, or mentors."
What advice would you share with future Corsairs?
"My advice is to get involved with the UMass Dartmouth community and take advantage of the opportunities provided. For future nursing students, I highly recommend taking advantage of job and/or internship opportunities in healthcare to gain experience in the field prior to graduation. Though working during the semester can be challenging, there are opportunities available during the summer that can provide invaluable hands-on experience, which can help promote understanding in the formal learning environment."
Hospice nursing prioritizes comfort and quality of life
How did you become interested in hospice nursing?
"In my work as an LPN, I have had the opportunity to work alongside many hospice organizations and greatly admire their mission to prioritize comfort and quality of life, as well as the primary care nursing model traditionally used in this specialty. The primary nursing model involves a consistent nurse providing continued bedside care which helps to promote a strong, trusting nurse-patient relationship, and allows that nurse to develop a more in-depth understanding of the client and their needs through their continued interactions.
"Hospice nurses are responsible for not only the patients, but also assisting their families in coping with the anticipatory grief that often comes with a terminal illness as well as the transitions that occur near the end of life. I've observed in practice that many families fear hospice when they first hear the service being suggested, but most families who agree to initiate hospice services then express how grateful they are for the additional support that hospice care provides; promoting comfort and dignity and offering reassurance to those in need. I really enjoy connecting with patient families, as they can share memories and patient preferences that help me deliver more personalized care."
How would you like to use your nursing degree?
"I have spent a lot of time with the geriatric population and absolutely love working in this field. I enjoy establishing connections with my clients and their families to be able to comfort and support them through life transitions. After graduation, I hope to continue working with geriatrics while specializing in hospice nursing."
Do you feel that UMass Dartmouth prepared you for your future?
"UMass Dartmouth has prepared me extremely well for my future. Throughout my courses, hands-on experience in clinicals, and specialized training in mentorship, I have acquired the knowledge and skills needed for future nursing practice."