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Cathy Sivak,

Best patient care tip for a novice?

If you are not sure, that is not a failure; if you don’t know what to do, always reach out to to your staff, to your mentors, your preceptors, your colleagues. Always strive to improve. We’re always students, we’re always learning. I’ve always stopped and asked for help when unsure Never be afraid to ask the question and to challenge if necessary. A big part of the job is to be the educator and be a resource for information.

Education Information & Advice

What led you to pursue master’s level nurse practitioner educational opportunities? How did you choose NYU?

As I was working in hospice, I went through a divorce, and as part of my “what can I do make this part of a positive,” outlook, I knew I must follow my passion. I was already a certified hospice nurse and palliative care nurse. I called the national organization and asked “What more can I do to further my education?” It turned out there was a new program at New York University, the palliative care nurse practitioner program. I called the head of the program, Dr. Debra Sherman and we had an immediate telephone interview. She told me, “I hear a passion in your voice� you need to give up what your thought your life was, for the life that is planned for you.”

When is it a good time to pursue post-graduate nursing studies?

I would caution ‘new’ nurses that go straight into the advanced practice program. Sometimes I feel they need more experience before they go to that level; I would like nurses to give themselves time to give bedside care and feel solid experiencing their role before going to the next level. Basic nursing skills gives the nurse more of a sense and experience, a foundation to move on. Lacking the bedside nursing skill, immediate gratification at the next higher level might take away from a nurse’s best perspective and basic skills. I knew of “brand new nurses” that went right to the practitioner program and did not feel as competent in the NP role as a nurse of many years and experience. This might not be true for everyone; however, this was just my observation.

What factors should prospective students consider when choosing a school? Are there any different considerations for those who know that they want to specialize in a certain field of nursing?

To think about their specialty, their goals, and what they want to accomplish. It has to match your spirit. It has to be about not just what you do, but who you are.

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