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Macy Undergraduate Leadership Program Inspires Next Generation of Healthcare Professionals

February 28, 2014

The Macy Undergraduate Leadership Program was created in 2011 by Dr. Roberta Waite, an associate professor of nursing, the Dean for Academic Integration and Evaluation of Community Programs, and a Macy Faculty Scholar alumna of the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation. The program aims to mold students from the College of Nursing and Health Professions into future leaders in the healthcare field. Senior nursing students Alexis Burns and Andrea Pouschine are two current members of the Macy Undergraduate Leadership program. 

Chartings: What does the Macy Undergraduate Leadership Program involve?

Burns: The program is a series of three courses that touch upon different aspects of leadership. It really challenges you to develop yourself, how you see the world, and how you interact with other people. We do have typical assignments and papers, but really, it presents you with real-life information. It is like a self-discovery class and challenges you in a way that other coursework often doesn’t. Each student gets professional mentor who is a leader in their field and who serves as a resource for you throughout your academic career. The program aims to recruit students from different backgrounds, which is why the program is enjoyable. There is richness. You see world views that you never knew existed.

Chartings: What has been your most memorable moment in the program thus far?

Burns: Last term we had a class on authentic leadership, and we discussed how different backgrounds influenced your values and who you are. One classmate spoke about what it meant to be Hispanic, and how his family had different values than my family. It is hard to recognize different values, but at the same time it is really important. We have also had discussions on racism and oppression.

Pouschine: I agree with Alexis. That experience was something I enjoyed as well. It was interesting to hear about different perspectives, and how other students are different than you. It makes you think about world views and culture, and all that shapes who you are as a person. It may be difficult to accept other values at first, but at the end, you can see how you changed. There is a huge cultural competence component to becoming a good leader.

Chartings: Does the Macy Program attract a certain type of student?

Pouschine:  The program can be for anyone, but it definitely takes a certain student to recognize the opportunity, because it truly is a significant opportunity. I have gained so much experience that I wouldn’t have, had I not applied to the program. One thing a student needs to have is to have an open mind. We talk about uncomfortable things like stereotypes, and racism. In that sense, it takes a certain type of student, but the experience is invaluable and changes you. Students should really take advantage of this program by applying.

Chartings: Do you think the program will help you when you become nursing professionals?

Burns: Absolutely! The mentorship aspect of the program does just that. Each student is assigned a mentor specific to his or her interests. Since I am a senior, my mentor has served as a resource for getting a job, interviewing, and building a good resume. A sophomore, on the other hand, may use their mentor for things like how to get more involved in the community or get a co-op job. This program will play a huge role when I become a working nurse.

Pouschine: For me, the interprofessional simulation days were really useful in terms of becoming a professional. For example, I had no experience in working with Physician Assistants even though my co-op was interdisciplinary. I learned their role and the scope of their job. It also taught me to use shared mental models. Shared mental models teach you to think aloud, so that your team members have an idea of what you’re thinking about and what your next step is. I never really thought of doing that before, but it will be really useful for when I become a healthcare professional.

Chartings: What is one unique aspect of the program that someone might not know about?

Pouschine: The mentorship program is definitely unique because you are able to connect with a mentor meaningfully, and not just have one for the sake of having one. They are really important in bringing together the program and will serve as resources when the program concludes.

Burns: For me, it would be the guest speaker aspect. It is a very positive and inspirational experience to hear a guest speaker speak. I would walk into class in a bad mood, but by the end of the class would feel reenergized and inspired. This was one of the best experiences I have had at Drexel so far!