Amanda Hazeltine (COM ‘06) always knew she wanted to pursue a career related to health care. A former COMmunicator editor, she attended Boston University’s College of Communication for her master’s in public relations after studying all things health care -related at Stonehill College. Now studying to be a nurse practitioner, Hazeltine reflects on her career journey.
Evan Brown: Tell me about yourself! What originally brought you to the College of Communication?
Amanda Hazeltine: I have always had a passion for the health and sciences, so at Stonehill College, I double majored in psychology and public administration, and minored in health care administration. I also had a passion for writing, so during my sophomore year, I was hired as a work study student in the Office of Media Relations at Stonehill. I started to learn how to write press releases, faculty biographies, and more. My mind was opened to this whole field of PR and writing, and I realized I could actually pursue this as a career. When I became a senior, I took my first PR class. I loved it, and decided to go to graduate school. I applied to grad programs, including BU’s Master’s in Public Relations. I wanted to couple my health background with a communications degree and work in the field of health communications.
EB: What professional experience did you have coming to COM?
AH: In college, I interned at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in the public affairs office, where I was able to learn how an internal communications department functioned. I also interned at MGH’s geriatric medicine unit, where I developed information packets for patients and families about their health conditions. I also helped write the patient newsletter… I loved doing that kind of work.
At COM, I was the editor of The COMmunicator, back when it was only in black and white print. I also had an internship at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in the Patient and Family Education Department. I leverage my education from COM to help them develop a marketing plan to educate the community about sun safety, how to protect themselves from the risks of skin cancer. We went to one of the elementary schools in Revere, [MA], with a local NECN meteorologist and put on a play to teach the students about sun safety.
EB: Many college students– especially those studying liberal arts– shy away from STEM. Nursing is unique compared to the traditional COM fields. When and how did you really discover your passion for nursing?
AH: I always knew I wanted to work in health care and the science field, and to make a positive impact at the population health level through health communication/promotion. After graduating from BU, I held health communications positions in both PR agency and in-house communications settings, as well as roles in program management for 13 years.
Somewhere along that path, my mom was diagnosed with incurable stage IV cancer. She went through it all: surgery, chemotherapy, clinical trials, palliative care and hospice. Her healthcare team and nurses were amazing and incredibly supportive throughout the entire length of her illness. This experience caused me to contemplate my career path. I decided that I wanted to pursue nursing as a way to turn a tragic situation into something positive by giving back and caring for other patients and families affected by cancer.
I started by taking a certified nursing assistant course and eventually started working at on an oncology-bone marrow transplant unit in Boston, where I worked for five years as a patient care technician. I really enjoyed caring for patients and their families. This experience really reinforced that I wanted to change careers and go into nursing. I started taking nursing prerequisite courses, and then applied to direct-entry nursing programs. As of this past August, I became a registered nurse and am working in oncology. I am continuing on in my Doctor of Nursing Practice program, where I am in the adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner track. I hope to continue working as a nurse practitioner in oncology and palliative care after graduation.
EB: What tips do you have for students who may want to pursue a more out-of-the-box career?
AH: Everything that you learn with a communications degree is applicable to any job and any field you end up going into. COM has such a great focus in big picture strategic thinking and communications, and those skills have really helped make me a better nursing student and a better nurse. We work on many scholarly projects and research papers in nursing school, and to this day, I am still employing the skills and tenets of good writing I learned from Prof. Dottie Clark. Nursing is really all about compassion, human connection and communication—clear communication not only with patients and families, but also with your healthcare colleagues. I can’t emphasize enough how integral my COM education has been throughout my career. Your COM experience is what you make of it, and you will find applications of it anywhere your career takes you, there really are no limitations. In a way, I came full circle back to my original passion of health and science. My message to students is that careers don’t have to take a straight and narrow path, and it is never too late to pursue your passion—so be open to the direction it may take you.
Evan Brown, Staff Writer
Evan Brown (she/her/hers) is a current Sophomore in the College of Communication studying Media Science with minors in Medical Anthropology and Theatre Performance. Born and raised in Chicago, she has always had a passion for exploring the world around her. When she’s not playing the role of Gemma on BUTV10’s longest-running soap opera– Bay State– or creating new content for BU Dining Services’ social media platforms, she can often be found eating ice cream or playing with her dog, Lou.