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Mother of two and former educator leads quality improvement project while pursuing Doctor of Nursing Practice degree

Amanda Hazeltine honors her late mother’s caregivers by following in their footsteps

By Kylee Denesha

UMass Medical School Communications

March 29, 2021

Amanda Hazeltine, RN, a Graduate Entry Pathway to Doctor of Nursing Practice student in the Graduate School of Nursing, worked in health care communications, program management and education for 13 years prior to becoming a nurse. She always had a passion for science and communication but was inspired to change careers by the nursing care her late mother received throughout her journey with cancer.

“The health care team really supported my mom as well as our family,” Hazeltine said. “When she was sick, her oncology and palliative care team was amazing and really helped us get through some of the darkest times. Enrolling in nursing school is a way to give back and take a tragic situation and turn it into something positive.”

Hazeltine lived in New York, Hawaii and Taiwan before moving to Massachusetts. She studied psychology and public administration and minored in health care administration at Stonehill College before pursuing a master’s degree in public relations at Boston University. After that, she worked in various roles over the years including as a web editor for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, a communications manager for the Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare, and a project manager for the Massachusetts General Hospital Division of Palliative Care & Geriatric Medicine.

Before enrolling at UMMS, Hazeltine was also an adjunct lecturer at Boston University’s College of Communication for three years. Now, she works as a nurse on the hematology/oncology unit at UMass Memorial Medical Center.

“What really excited me about UMass Medical School’s GEP program was that people like me who have degrees in areas other than nursing can go right into the field,” said Hazeltine.

Since September 2020, she has led a project as part of the UMass Interprofessional Trainee Quality Council (ITQC), a program of the Office of Graduate Medical Education that provides opportunities for residents and fellows to design and lead quality improvement projects. In collaboration with hospital medicine, nursing, oncology and palliative care services, Hazeltine and her multidisciplinary team members are piloting a screening tool and process to help with earlier identification of oncology inpatients at UMass Memorial who may benefit from palliative care consultation.

“ITQC provides collaborative opportunities for graduate nursing, medical and pharmacy students, and other learners to develop their quality improvement skills,” she said. “It has been great to see the synergies between the Medical School and UMass Memorial in improving the care of patients and their families. This project also connects with my work on the unit as an oncology nurse in my RN residency program, and I plan to explore how we can continue to expand on this for my doctoral scholarly project later on.”

Hazeltine’s husband, Max Hazeltine, MD’17, is a surgery resident at the Medical School and a graduate of the School of Medicine. They are busy parents of two young children and Hazeltine said the faculty have played a major role in her ability to succeed in nursing school.

“I’m so grateful to my mentors and the faculty for being so accommodating and understanding of mothers joining the nursing field later in life.”

After earning her DNP, Hazeltine plans to work closely with people living with serious illnesses. She hopes to use her communication and caregiving skills to make a difference in her patients’ lives.

“As a way to honor my mom, as well as all the other health care professionals who have come before me, I would love to continue to work in oncology and palliative care as a nurse practitioner to take care of patients and their families.”

The Student Spotlight series features students in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Graduate School of Nursing and School of Medicine. For more information about UMass Medical School and how to apply, visit the Prospective Students page.

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