Alumni Spotlight: Nickie Burney

Nickie Burney is a graduate of the Family Nurse Practitioner program at Simmons School of Nursing and Health Sciences. In a recent interview, Burney shared her experience attending Simmons College as a graduate nursing student and the life lessons she learned.

Why did you decide to pursue your advanced nursing degree at Simmons College?

Embarking on the journey of a lifetime, I wanted my career to have the best foundation possible. I was making an important investment in myself, while also preparing for the privilege of a lifetime — caring for patients. I researched my options, near and far, for nearly a year and talked to several leading nurse practitioners in a variety of roles and specialties. Consistently, I was told that Simmons was one of the best schools in the nation and that sort of response came from nearly everyone I asked including those who had not graduated from Simmons.

What type of clinical experience did you have before enrolling in the Master of Science in Nursing program for Family Nurse Practitioners at Simmons?

My career started as a nursing assistant and then I eventually became a registered nurse. In both roles, I worked exclusively in acute care settings within local teaching hospitals.

Did you attend the program part time or full time? Did you maintain employment while you were enrolled? If so, what lessons from the curriculum were you able to apply to your role?

I attended classes on a part-time basis and worked throughout my time at Simmons. The curriculum actually helped me love my work as a nurse even more! Surprisingly, I didn’t need to wait until after I had graduated to get promoted to a new role that I was especially excited about.

My education changed my entire practice and helped me incorporate evidence (research findings) on a daily basis. I never expected school to make me increasingly inquisitive and energized at work. It was empowering to use lessons learned in the classroom and apply them to my work with patients right away. There was no question that I was more passionate, better able to care for patients, and a stronger resource for my colleagues.

Why did you decide to pursue the Family Nurse Practitioner specialty?

I think it offers the broadest, richest, and most complete education available. Learning to take care of patients across the lifespan made for fewer gaps in my knowledge and taught me to appreciate the impact of a person’s past medical history on their current and potential future medical problems.

What advice would you give someone interested in pursuing an advanced degree in the Family Nurse Practitioner specialty?

The graduate program you decide on will, not only, influence your ability to succeed as a student and become a competent healthcare professional, but will shape your core ideals about the profession and the extent to which you value patients and the impact you have on their lives. Forever, I will be indebted to my former professors, classmates, and the education I received at Simmons for giving me all the above and so much more.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about your experience getting your master’s in nursing?

It still amazes me to think about how I was skillfully transformed into a compassionate, capable FNP because of my time at Simmons. However, often, it was challenging to juggle work and the responsibilities of my personal life with grad school. I was successful because of friends and family, but also largely because of the amazing professors and my former classmates at Simmons.

Where do you currently work and what position do you hold?

I work on an inpatient general medicine ward at Brigham & Women’s Faulkner Hospital in Boston. I’m part of a team of providers, including nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and attending physicians, who manage the care of patients throughout their entire hospital course.