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GSN class speaker Cecily Kulsick embarks on clinical career, well-prepared by DNP program

By Sandra Gray

UMass Medical School Communications

May 28, 2019
GSN class speaker Cecily Kulsick 

Career changer Cecily Kulsick will realize her passion and fulfill her purpose as she graduates with her Doctor of Nursing Practice degree at UMass Medical School’s 46th Commencement exercises on Sunday, June 2. Chosen by faculty to be the class speaker for the Graduate School of Nursing, Kulsick will reflect on her life-changing experiences at the ceremony.

With a bachelor’s degree in business management, Kulsick spent 15 years in corporate marketing jobs. During 12 years at health services giant CVS, she felt a growing pull toward providing health care rather than marketing it. In 2014, the time was right for her to make the leap. Following a year spent taking prerequisite courses, Kulsick entered the Graduate Entry Pathway to Doctor of Nursing Practice program in 2015, joining an inaugural cohort who will graduate this year.

“I realized I wanted to be patient facing,” said Kulsick, who has always held nurses, including her mother and one sister, in high esteem. “There are so many different things you can do in nursing, and that was one of the things that was attractive to me. Making such a dramatic career change, I wanted to have a range of options that would serve me for the remaining decades of my career, which advanced practice nursing offers.”

She was drawn to the GSN’s program after attending information sessions at area schools offering DNP degrees.

“What makes the terminal degree unique is that in addition to graduating with clinical skills, the DNP provides further courses that prepare you to work on the diverse cross-functional teams that are now prevalent in health care to address areas like quality improvement, leadership and data analytics,” Kulsick explained. “The DNP program arms us to contribute in a more meaningful way to whatever health care environment we work in. It made sense to me.”

During her adult gerontology primary care nurse practitioner training, Kulsick progressed through three clinical practicums. She refined her assessment, diagnostic and treatment skills during the first one in outpatient primary care at Reliant Internal Medicine in Auburn. While caring for patients in the Homeless Outreach and Advocacy Project at Community Health Link in Worcester, she strengthened her affinity for helping adults with complex medical, behavioral and substance use conditions compounded by socioeconomic challenges. Finally, she completed further coursework for a specialty in palliative care, fulfilling the required additional 90 clinical hours at Health Alliance Leominster. Both of these UMass Memorial facilities serve diverse patients, many of them medically underserved.

These seminal clinical experiences informed Kulsick’s recent job search. She has already begun her new career as a nurse practitioner on a multidisciplinary liver tumor team at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

“My clinical experiences during the DNP program galvanized my deep interest in specialty populations with unique needs,” said Kulsick. “This role is a perfect fit for me because it incorporates caring for patients with complex medical and social needs and palliative care.”

Her passion was evident early in her training at the GSN; Kulsick received the Spirit of Nursing Award at her Graduate Entry Pathway pinning in 2016.

“The GSN gave me the opportunity to have diverse clinical experiences as well as diverse coursework. I also had the support of many faculty members to find my own path,” Kulsick reflected. “This is a wonderful adventure, and I feel grateful and fortunate to be on it.”