"In the acute care setting, emergencies call for immediate action. A nurse practitioner must use their knowledge to rapidly assess a situation and make decisions that could be life changing."
Mary Murphy Hayes has always been drawn to medicine, perhaps unconsciously following the influence of her grandmother who was the Director of Medical Records at Haverhill Hospital. Although her nursing career has been devoted to acute care, the growing trend for hospitals to require certification prompted her decision to enroll in the UNH Online Post-Master’s Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program and to sit for the national certification exam.
Hayes holds two bachelor's degrees – a BS in nutritional science from UNH and a BS in nursing from Regis College – as well as a master's degree in nursing from Regis College and certification as a Family Nurse Practitioner. Mary worked with Lakes Regional General Hospital and Catholic Medical Center and the Intensive Care Unit with Portsmouth Regional Hospital in New Hampshire.
Planning her fieldwork for the clinical hours required by AGACNP certification opened the door to a rotation with the Medical ICU at Dartmouth-Hitchcock (a teaching hospital) as well as an exciting opportunity with acute care and bariatric surgery team.
"I view these wonderful experiences as “fun” because they allow me to explore new avenues and gain a fresh perspective that deepens my knowledge in the field. My family jokes that I am a forever student which is absolutely true. I love to learn."
Although Hayes earned a UNH bachelor’s degree in nutrition, her love of nursing was born when she became certified as a nurse’s aide through a Red Cross program. Her nutritional studies, however, have provided a knowledge base on how nutrition and lifestyle can impact health and medical conditions across the lifespan.
As a student, Mary was previously accustomed to attending lectures in person but she adapted the online modality to her own learning style by printing out course reading assignments to review and notate in a familiar fashion. A student from the first cohort of the UNH Online AGACNP program, she talks about the multiple benefits of small class size.
"My professor, Clarissa Michalak, responded quickly to all of my questions and consistently provided the support needed to successfully complete the course work. I enjoyed personalized attention such as a supply of podcasts on class topics each week that I could listen to in my car during the daily commute. I enjoyed meeting the instructors during my campus visit and, as a DNP graduate, I view them not only as my professors but as wonderful colleagues."
Mary’s story of performing CPR during a road race underscores her long-standing career as an acute care nurse practitioner where critical decisions must be made literally within a heartbeat. A mirror of Hayes’ professional determination is her decision to participate in a triathlon. “This is my first time so I am aiming for a short competition. It is only a 750-meter swim, a 12-mile bike trek, and a 5K run.” She smiles modestly and says, “We’ll see how it goes.”
Whether she is working in the intensive care unit or competing in a sporting event, Mary has the fire and desire to give her best work.
Written by Gwendolyn Goguelet