For Alyssa Minasian, oncology is “about where I can do the most good”
“I think I will always remember a specific experience from my acute care clinical,” recalls Alyssa Minasian, Direct-Entry MSN ’24. “A classmate was assigned to a patient who had been in a motor vehicle accident and a few of us came in to assist with her care. She was severely injured in the crash and wasn't able to care for herself at all. As we were providing her care, she kept thanking us and telling us how appreciated we were.” And, Alyssa adds, “She was also a nurse.”
For Alyssa, a Woburn, Massachusetts, native who received certification in phlebotomy and an undergraduate degree in biology/pre-health prior to Regis, “This experience resonates with me because I feel like this is what nursing is all about, being there for someone during the darkest and most vulnerable times in their life. If we can ease their pain, calm their fears, and take care of them when they can't care for themselves, what is more fulfilling than that?”
As program director of the accelerated bachelor’s degree in nursing and a member of the adjunct clinical faculty, Assistant Professor Erin M. Waldron distinctly remembers the first time she met Alyssa. “When students first arrive on the medical floor for their first clinical experience, they are like deer in the headlights,” she says. “Alyssa did not have that look. She looked eager and excited to get started. She asked a lot of well-thought-out questions and was looking forward to getting started. I knew that Alyssa and I were going to get along just fine.”
Prior to starting her program at Regis, Alyssa worked in an outpatient allergy clinic as a full-time medical assistant. After several years there, it was Alyssa who played the mentoring role to new staff like Caitlyn Murray RN, BSN.
“On day one of me working there, Alyssa took me along with her throughout the day and trained me,” Caitlyn recalls. “As a new grad nurse, I was excited but very nervous and timid. As I like to describe the experience, Alyssa was like a mother bird teaching a baby bird to fly. After ensuring that I observed enough of a skill and when she felt I was ready to go, she threw me in. And for that, I could not be more thankful. In those first few months of me being a new grad I know that she had much more confidence in me than I even had in myself.”
Prior to settling on nursing, Alyssa considered different provider roles in medicine including MD, Physician’s Assistant (PA) and Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO). But she decided that nursing “aligned with me the most. I think patients should be treated holistically in an empathetic and caring manner.” At the clinic, she worked “alongside some of the most helpful, intelligent, and caring nurses. They taught me so much and solidified my decision to join the nursing profession.”
Once Alyssa chose nursing, she began planning her path. “I also wanted autonomy in practice, which landed me in the DE-MSN program here at Regis,” she explains. “I settled on the direct entry MSN program specifically because I knew that I wanted to be a provider, and this program would allow me to become an NP in about three years while being awarded two separate degrees, a BSN and MSN.”
Alyssa thought ahead about how she would like to apply her education in nursing. Her mother had stage one breast cancer at the time and while it was thankfully cured, the experience led her to oncology. “Cancer doesn't discriminate, it can happen to any gender, race, age, and will most likely affect all of us in our lifetime in one way or another,” she says. “It is such a life-changing, devastating experience for patients.”
Beyond her experience with her mother’s diagnosis, Alyssa’s decision to pursue oncology also represents a sort of doubling-down of the reasons she is entering the field in the first place. “When I think about nursing and how I want to practice medicine, I think about where I can do the most good, be of the most comfort, and where my work would be most meaningful,” she explains. “Taking care of patients who are facing this challenge will of course be very difficult emotionally, but so rewarding.”
Caitlyn describes her friend’s “amazing dream [one which I know will come to fruition] of opening an infusion clinic that cares for patients undergoing cancer treatment,” Caitlyn explains. “She has mentioned that she wants this to be a space where patients can feel as comfortable as possible and safe. She mentioned wanting to have a wig shop on site, handmade blankets for patients to utilize, and other amenities to ensure these patients are as comfortable as possible during this difficult treatment.”
In the meantime, Alyssa works at Regis as a graduate assistant in the clinical office, maintaining excellent grades and pursuing her career goal.
“Looking back to where I started almost one year ago, I cannot believe how much I've already learned and how far I've come,” she reflects. “It has been difficult at times and there have been bumps along the way, but my classmates and I have made it through, and our end goal gets closer every day.”