“I have loved every day I have been a nurse,” says Sister Mary Meyers, C.S.J., MSN, BA, MS, RN, AGNP-C, Remediation Coordinator for the School of Nursing. Sister Mary’s career originally began as a teacher. She then decided to become a nurse, working mostly ICU and hospice. “Now my life has come full circle, as I am both a nurse and a teacher,” she says. “There is no place I would rather be than here at Duquesne University School of Nursing!”
In the following Q&A, Sister Mary shares how she is here to support students in any way she can.
What is your role at the School of Nursing?
I am the School of Nursing’s Remediation Coordinator/Success Coach—I added the “Success Coach” part to accentuate the role I play in helping students succeed. I work with students one-on-one and in small groups to assist them not only with HESI testing, but also with any other aspect of nursing they seek assistance with.
Describe your teaching style.
I am a very hands-on teacher. I love to tell stories to help students remember things. I also consider myself a cheerleader. I always have a student’s back and will do whatever I can to help, such as dissect questions, teach success strategies, and share ways to manage anxiety associated with testing and learning as well as in everyday life.
Why did you choose to become a Remediation Coordinator?
I was unsure what I wanted to do when I arrived in Pittsburgh after nine years of caring for my mother in her last years in New York. As a Duquesne alum (BSN), I reached out to a former instructor who put me on track to join Duquesne as a clinical instructor.
When the Dean discovered that I had been a teacher for 20 years, she asked if I would tutor a handful of students who needed some extra help. I jumped at the opportunity! After meeting one-on-one weekly, I was proud that many improved significantly at the end of that semester.
The Dean then encouraged me to apply for a Remediation Coordinator position that Nursing had recently posted. I applied, was hired and continued to exclusively tutor for the next semester—and I have been here ever since!
Who or what inspired you to enter the nursing profession?
Probably the single biggest influence on my nursing career would be my sister, who has been a nurse and nurse practitioner for many years. I would hear her stories about the impact she had on the lives of so many and that drew me. I love medicine and finally decided it was now or never to change careers.
My time at Duquesne made me realize immediately that I had chosen both the right career and the right school. Being back here is a gift in my life!
What is most rewarding about your role?
Truly, the most rewarding aspect of my job at Duquesne is seeing students who feel defeated turn that into success and move into the nursing profession as confident young men and women. I think that is what I do best; I show them that they can overcome any obstacle if they just want it enough and are willing to do the hard work. They know I have their backs, and they know I will never give up on them. Seeing those tears turn to smiles and screams of joy never gets old!
What would you like students to know about you?
I am here for you no matter the obstacle. I want you to seek me out early in your journey if you are struggling. My office, whether in person or now on Zoom, is a “judgment-free zone.” I want every student to know that you have what it takes to enter this challenging and rewarding profession, and I will be with you every step of the way.
Any advice for a Duquesne nursing student?
You are entering a course of study that is rigorous and challenging. You need to study and be prepared. As a nurse, you will be tasked with being an advocate for your patients. You need to not just remember information but also apply that information and critically think in an ever-changing environment.
This career is not for the faint of heart, but if you give yourself to it with all your heart, you will never be bored or unhappy a day in your life! You get to be someone’s hero every day—from the newborn you welcome into the world, to the person leaving this earth whose hand you will hold.
Nursing does not start when you leave here. It starts the day you set foot in a classroom when everything you learn will be the building block to the next learning. You are building a foundation that will one day affect the patients you care for. It is an awesome responsibility!
Have there been any moments when working with a student that really impacted you?
The students who came to me convinced they could not succeed are the ones who made the greatest impact on me. Many were overcoming things—things no young person should have to deal with—which affected their learning. I see all their faces as I ponder this question. Their courage, resilience and refusal to give up humbled me. I can see each of their faces when they passed a test, and the end came! Now, every single one works as a nurse—in all kinds of environments from NICU to ICU and everything in between. To be a part of their journeys has been a blessing to me.
What are you excited about next?
I am enrolled in a Doctorate of Nursing Practice Degree with Saint Louis University. Duquesne’s and St. Louis’ Schools of Nursing have a partnership that allows faculty to receive graduate degrees in an exchange program. I have recently received an MSN-NP and am finishing my last year in the DNP program.
Just this summer I did a small test of a simple intervention to assist student who suffer from test anxiety and anxiety in general—I had amazing results. I hope to do this for my final DNP project in the summer of 2021 with a larger number. I have seen how much students suffer with crippling anxiety and my DNP class this summer has given me invaluable tools to assist them to take control and succeed. It is so exciting to be able to help students in yet another way with something that is becoming more and more prevalent.
In addition to teaching, how else are you active in health care?
Besides teaching, I practice as a nurse practitioner (NP). I have found my niche in the University Health Center where I assist students who are experiencing illness. I also volunteer with the homeless in a program called Project Hope in Wheeling, WV, and at a free clinic for the underserved in Steubenville, OH, with one of my NP colleagues, Dr. Denise Lucas.