Sherry Providence, MSM-HCA

New ideas for nursing

After working as a psychiatric nurse for more than 20 years, Sherry Providence could see her profession changing rapidly and wanted to prepare herself. Although Sherry loves nursing, and sees herself continuing in this profession, she eagerly signed up for Marlboro College Graduate Center's new master's program in health care administration to jumpstart her professional development.

"I hope the program will provide me with skills to navigate the larger health care environment," said Sherry, manager of quality improvement and risk management at the Brattleboro Retreat. "Specifically, I want to engage and empower myself and those I work with to move forward into these changing times. It is inevitable that technology and health care become more and more merged and we in health care need to become experts to stay ahead of the curve."

Sherry was first drawn to MCGC when Joe Heslin, associate admissions director at MCGC, came to the Retreat to discuss the new program and what it offered to the local health care community. She was impressed by the fact that it was a schedule that could accommodate her busy life, with just one class a week, and she would complete her degree in two years. Sherry's employer even offered to help fund her participation, making it a no-brainer.

"I really like the other students in the program," said Sherry. "The convenient location of the Graduate Center provides easy access with minimal interruption in my life."

Sherry is particularly impressed with some instructors who motivate the class to communicate through Moodle, an internet-based tool for collaborative learning. One of these was Dr. Jilisa Snyder, clinical psychologist and director of the Anna Marsh Clinic at the Retreat, who teaches a popular course in health care ethics.

"I structured the course so that each week one student had to facilitate the Moodle, and they did a fabulous job," said Jilisa. "This is a master's level course, so part of it is cultivating leadership and facilitation skills. If you would read one of those Moodle conversations, they're incredible: in-depth, honest and thoughtful scholarship."

Sherry plans to do a Capstone project that will be specific to nursing at the Retreat, rising to the challenges that she contends with there on a daily basis. Down the road, she hopes that her degree will open up new opportunities for employment in nursing, even abroad. She was a Peace Corps volunteer on the Caribbean Island of St. Vincent in the 80s, and remembers this experience fondly.

"I would really like to work overseas again once my own kids are out of school," said Sherry. "I believe this degree will allow me more and different opportunities."