Faculty Spotlight

The Value of an Inclusive Community with Assistant Professor of Practice Clark Cassone ’12MSN

Assistant Professor of Practice Clark Cassone ’12MSN can attest to the longevity and successful outcomes of the Simmons nursing program. “The School of Nursing at Simmons has been around for decades, which lends the program a lot of depth” says Cassone. “Plus, there is a common thread of graduates who stick around to teach.”

Cassone is among those faculty, in addition to working as a Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “During my student days at Simmons, we voted for Superlatives,” says Cassone. “I was voted most likely to become a Simmons professor. No one was surprised when I told them that I was now teaching for the program.” Cassone enjoys teaching Pharmacology at Simmons. “I love that it highlights the scientific aspect of being a nurse as well as how to problem-solve.”

After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in public health, Cassone wanted a nursing degree (RN) with the ultimate goal of becoming a nurse practitioner, as the role offers more autonomy and responsibility. Cassone was drawn to the Direct Entry MSN program at Simmons, which doesn’t require a particular undergraduate degree. “I felt really supported by the faculty. My current career in palliative care was made possible by my mentors at Simmons. They take an interest in your success, helping you make connections while you study.”

Cassone cites Simmons’ history and inclusiveness as some of the University’s most unique and attractive characteristics. “We have a broad student population within a women’s-centered University,” says Cassone. “Teaching undergraduates and graduates involves extensive training around inclusion. We take a hard look at our curriculum to make sure it uses inclusive language for all gender identities, sexual orientations, races and ethnicities.”

Graduate nursing faculty recently received a Pronoun Primer training from the University’s Trans and Non-binary Collective (TANC) in partnership with EriKa Monfort, Assistant Dean of Student Experience and Director of the Multicultural Center. “We’re making sure we’re creating an open, inclusive environment, and TANC put together a thoughtful and very useful training. We plan to build on this and work more with student groups.”

Inclusion strengthens the whole community, which is vital, considering the rigors of the nursing program. “You spend the whole day with your peers, get to know them, and set up study sessions,” says Cassone. “As a student, I felt a part of a strong community. My best friends today are the friends I met at Simmons.”

For online students, Cassone praises the immersion weekend for hands-on experience. “People come together for workshops on EKG, suturing, and physical assessment scenarios. It’s a chance for students across the country to come together and see each other in person, which is really fun and helps build a community.”

For the past three years, Cassone has practiced palliative care at Brigham and Women’s. “We take a holistic approach to serious illnesses, offering symptom management and focusing on our patient’s overall well-being,” says Cassone. “It’s challenging, but it’s a great field because you get to sit with your patients and get to know them. We also talk a lot about quality of life and what’s important to people so that we can provide them with personalized care. I like being able to advocate for people, and nursing in general encompasses that.” Having recently started the Doctorate of Nursing practice program, Cassone is engaging in research. “I am interested in medical marijuana. It is now approved in some capacity in 36 states, so it’s important for nurse practitioners to have a working knowledge of this therapy.”

Cassone hopes students will consider a nursing career. “Be prepared to work hard and at times be humbled by how much information you will need to learn,” they caution. “But you will find a wonderful community at Simmons and a wonderful profession at the end of your schooling.” Cassone further states, “I couldn’t be more proud to be a Simmons professor and alum.”

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