Mykell Fisher knows from personal experience how a nurse can make a difference in someone’s life and put them on a path to a career in healthcare.
Fisher, who is in the University of Colorado College of Nursing's Accelerated BS in Nursing program (UCAN), always had an interest in science and biology. Her younger sister was diagnosed with a chronic illness growing up. The nurse who cared for Fisher’s sister had a large influence on their family.
“She did an amazing job educating my family on how to provide care to my sister so she could have a normal life as much as she could,” Fisher says. “It re-affirmed my decision to go into healthcare. It goes to show how nurses can be formative presences and a reassuring presence in people’s lives when there’s so much uncertainty and fear about how to proceed in an unfamiliar circumstance.”
Fisher will become the second nurse in her family. Fisher’s mother decided to get a nursing degree because she was also inspired by the nurse who cared for her daughter. While Fisher wants to have a career in public health, her mom works in geriatric nursing.
“I think it was really powerful that the nurse who helped encourage my family to go into nursing was also a Black nurse,” Fisher says. “It’s a labor of love, and I think that’s what nursing comes down to – caring enough about people and being compassionate enough to provide people with the knowledge and the resources they need to live their own best life.”
Fisher, an Aurora native, got a bachelor’s degree in health science from Boston University in 2021. After a couple of years working for a healthcare startup company focusing on primary care, she switched careers and decided to pursue a career in nursing.
“I think it was the framework of nursing that resonated with me the most,” she says. “The very people-centered and patient-centered model is at the heart of treating patients. The way you treat people and their illnesses rather than treating the disease process is something I’m interested in.”
Praising CU Nursing’s Diversity
Fisher wanted to get her nursing degree in the community she lives in, so choosing to attend CU Nursing was an easy choice. She says she understands the college’s 125-year history, the influential nurses who studied at CU, and the college’s commitment to diversity.
“I really wanted to choose a university that shared a lot of my values and priorities,” she says. “As a student of color, knowing CU Nursing is committed to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the different nursing programs has been very important to me. As a student of color, it’s also important knowing they’re trying to be intentional about increasing the recruiting of more diverse students, because of course you want your workforce to reflect the community they serve in as many ways as possible.”
She noticed that the UCAN curriculum was promoting DEI, which she says is something people wouldn’t normally think of seeing in science-heavy and nursing-related classes. The commitment to DEI was reiterated throughout the program and reaffirmed by most of her professors.
“I think it matters to people from diverse backgrounds that the institution where they’re receiving an education from will be supportive of them and of diverse populations,” she says. “Especially for me, that’s one of the most important qualities when looking for someplace where you’re going to invest a lot of time and money, that they’ll be supportive of you and the different identities you might hold.”
Preparing to Enter the Nursing Profession
Fisher praises professors in the UCAN Program for helping her prepare for a career in nursing, saying they have become great mentors and are able to give her a comprehensive look at what it’s like to be a nurse.
“They’ve helped me build this nursing knowledge and the skills that I’ll be using in practice, and they’ve also helped expand my perspective to what nursing is,” she says. “My advisor has always been available to sit down with me and plan out things, and now I’m getting help navigating the nursing application process. It’s been incredible, I thank them all for helping me to really find my voice in the way so I can show up and serve my community.”
Fisher says future UCAN nursing students should prepare for a difficult program – and remember the “why” and why they chose to get into the nursing profession.
“It’s easy to get bogged down knowing that we have so many things coming at us so fast,” she says. “Remembering your “why” can be very grounding and provide you with the motivation you need. And remember, it’s okay to not know things, it’s okay to not know where you want to end up, and give yourself grace that you won’t know everything coming into this program.”
She also encourages students to ask questions about what nursing is like outside the classroom. She would ask nurses in her clinicals what they did to decompress after their shift or how they coped with something difficult.
“Those things aren’t directly taught in class, but those things are important in order to preserve the longevity of your career and preserve your mental health.”
Looking Ahead to the Future
After graduation, Fisher wants to stay in Aurora and work in a community health setting providing primary care services. She eventually wants to earn her DNP and a master’s in public health.
“I want to serve as a force of reassurance, empowerment, and information for people,” Fisher says. “I want to work with patients from different backgrounds, and socio-economic statuses and give them the tools they need to reach their healthcare goals.”