Listen to the interview (approx. 49 min.) or download it.
Graduated in 2010 with a major in Music Business. Principal Instrument: guitar.
Position: Registered Nurse in the acute psychiatric care wing of Cooley Dickinson Hospital, a community hospital in Northampton, Massachusetts which treats many different medical conditions. Here’s the primary contact person for 7 patients, who typically are there for less than two weeks. He does a medical status assessment on each patient, “charts” their progress (enterins the data) and makes sure each patient is OK and takes whatever medicine is needed. He’ll also suggest treatment options to the doctor or team. He’s currently working part time (24 hours/week), but the pay is good. He could work more hours if he wanted to, but has a small child at the moment.
Overview: After finishing Berklee at the end of 2010, Michael moved home (Connecticut) after graduation, and sold guitars at Sam Ashe while teaching guitar a bit on the side. In the fall of 2011, though a temp. agency he got a job as a substitute teacher in the public elementary schools. Michael wanted to profession in which he helped people. He considered getting his M.Ed. and becoming a classroom teacher, but noticed that it was hard to get a job and was scared of ending up unemployed. Many members of his family, including his then-girlfriend (now wife) worked in medicine, and that seemed like a safe way to earn a good income, so in the fall of 2012 he started taking prerequisites to go to Nursing school. His wife finished Optometry school and got a job in Northamption, so they moved up there in the fall of 2013. Paperwork issues delayed his enrollment in nursing school for a year, but he was able to spend the year working at a special ed. teacher’s assistant, experience which proved relevant to his current job.
September 2014 Michael entered the Accelerated Second Bachelors Degree in Nursing program at Elms College. He got good grades, and graduating in the spring of 2016, got his license in July, and started looking for hospital-based jobs, sending out over 100 applications. Finally in November, his third interview led to a job at Cooley Dickinson hospital, working the night shift in the medical/surgical unit. Michael liked his job, but really didn’t like working nights as he rarely saw his then-pregnant wife, so when a daytime position opened up in the psychiatric wing he took it.
You can see Michael’s LinkedIn profile here.
“As a psychiatric nurse you get to know the patients on a very deep, personal level often. They share their deepest, darkest secrets–abuse, trauma history. Often the people are readmitted. It’s often a chronic thing, like diabetes, you’re just trying to keep the symptoms under control and help people live with it.”
“I really like the interactions with patients and my colleagues. This is huge: I get along really well with your bosses–that’s important anywhere no matter where you work. I also really like psychopharmacology, learning about the medications and how they work.”
“Those first few weeks as a nurse are hard. You learn knowledge at school,and you need it, but then you do it and you feel a lot of pressure and no school was enough preparation.”You learn to grow up and be independent very quickly!”
“You always have options–don’t feel that your Berklee degree limits what you can do. Just the name “Berklee” will help you stand out — it definitely helped me as I was applying to nursing jobs.
Michael as a Berklee student. “To be a good musician you have to be disciplined–same as being a good nurse or student. It took real commitment to finish Berklee’s program, and similar commitment to do a nursing program.”
“I still practice to keep my chops up. Music is ingrained in me, but these days it’s more a hobby than anything else.”
Michael with his son and “Santa.” “If you want to continually learn and grow as a person, the medical field is great! Nursing is a good career choice because you don’t have to go back to school for 8 years–you can do it as an adult learner.”
See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.