Sissy Yang M’16 first became interested in nursing as a young girl, when she served as a hospital translator for her grandparents.

Yang saw first-hand the difficulties her grandparents from Laos experienced as a result of the language barrier with their caregivers.

After high school, she pursued an undergraduate degree in nursing with a desire to provide quality, personalized care for her patients.

“I would say nurses get into the profession because they enjoy patient care and all that encompasses. Nurses provide important one-on-one care and build connections with patients,” she said. “The highlight of my profession is that I have the honor of caring for a loved one. I have an amazing responsibility.”

Yang had been working as an inpatient float nurse for about five years with the Mayo Clinic hospital campuses when she decided to pursue an advanced degree to further her career. She enrolled in Saint Mary’s Health and Human Services Administration program. “When researching master’s programs, I found that Saint Mary’s was a good fit for adult learners. I really liked the mixture of blended and traditional course offerings.”

She said she knew her M.A. in Health and Human Services degree would be beneficial, regardless of where her career takes her.

“The professors at Saint Mary’s are working professionals in their fields,” she said. “I received a broad perspective, from business aspects, to leadership skills, to challenges within the health care work environment. It was really a great program.”

After graduating in spring 2016, Yang began pursuing another advanced degree in order to become a nurse practitioner. Her end goal is to educate Minnesota’s diverse populations about preventive care through public health.

“I definitely have a calling to work in the clinic setting or home environment with Minnesota’s diverse populations,” she said. “When you work with patients, at the bedside, you see how influential those public health services are, and yet funding is so limited,” she added. “Health promotion and education and preventive care is so important, but it’s very challenging to navigate those services. It’s complex and it’s confusing, especially when your first language is not English.”

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