Author Archives: Karen Jennings

New Careers in Nursing: "A Whole New Direction"

Feb 3, 2012, 1:00 PM, Posted by Karen Jennings

Karen Jennings, MS, RN, PMHNP-BC, is a scholar with New Careers in Nursing, a program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. In 2011, she graduated from William F. Connell School of Nursing at Boston College, and currently works as a nurse practitioner at McLean Hospital.


Throughout my undergraduate education, I prepared myself to pursue a PhD career in Clinical Psychology. I sought research opportunities outside of my course load, completed a senior thesis, and even held a part time job in the psychology department. I knew that I was destined to help others on a larger scale and advocate for significant changes in the field of mental health.

After graduation, I chose to develop my knowledge and experiences in research, and became a research assistant. However, after two years of working in research, I realized that I had limited clinical experience. Instead of applying to graduate programs, I decided to work as a mental health specialist at McLean Hospital for another two years. It wasn’t until I actually started preparing my graduate school applications that I realized I did not really want to become a clinical psychologist.

The nurses at McLean Hospital had mentioned on several occasions that I should consider a career in nursing, and I always disregarded their suggestions. However, I noticed how they made a more significant impact on the lives of others, through both medical knowledge and more advanced clinical skills, while simultaneously providing individuals with comfort and security.

I began to realize that pursuing a career in nursing would give me the opportunity to not only be a leader in providing patient care and educating patients, but I would also be able to coordinate health care services. I decided to give serious consideration to a career in nursing and began investigating master’s programs in the Boston area. After considerable contemplation, I decided to abandon my initial plans to be a clinical psychologist and start a new career, in nursing.

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