M.S. Nursing Success Stories

The value of a Fisher education is evident in personal stories of success told by students and alumni. Read what they have to say about the program and what they gained from their experience.

Alyssa Iacona, MSN, FNP-C '15, '19

Family Nurse Practitioner at Quatela Center for Plastic Surgery

Alyssa Iacona

Alyssa Iacona

Alyssa Iacona remembers hosting a health care clinic in her family room with her toy first aid kit and doctor set as a child. By the time she reached high school, her childhood days of the imaginary clinic turned into hours of science electives and community service at the hospital. Iacona’s plan to become a nurse through the Wegmans School of Nursing was no surprise to the original patients of her childhood clinic.

“When you enter the medical field, you learn a whole new language; however, the supportive professors and detailed curriculum at Fisher made for a smooth transition into the nursing world,” she explained. “By graduation, I felt well prepared to enter the field as a registered nurse.” Some of Iacona’s first experiences included respiratory critical care, outpatient dermatology, and inpatient trauma surgery.

She decided to further her career in nursing to become a nurse practitioner. “The choice to commit to Fisher was easy.” At the end of her graduate nursing program, she spent time as a surgical mission volunteer in Guatemala with the Help Us Give Smiles Foundation to assist children affected by microtia and cleft lip/palate. She considers this experience a defining moment in her nursing career when she became certain she wanted to pursue a career in plastic and reconstructive surgery.

Iacona now works as a nurse practitioner at the Quatela Center for Plastic Surgery where she provides pre-operative physicals and manages post-operative care. She also supports in the operating room as a first assist during surgeries. “I believe Fisher set me up for career success from the start, which has propelled me to continue to grow.”

She encourages other nurses to consider Fisher’s graduate nursing programs because of the community and variety of programs available. “The Fisher professors want to see you succeed!”

Rosemary Shanahan, PMHNP-BC '18

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner at Gavia LifeCare Center, LLC

Rosemary Shanahan

Rosemary Shanahan

Caring for a loved one through mental health struggles became the catalyst for Rosemary Shanahan’s transition in the nursing profession. For more than 20 years, she worked on the medical side of nursing before enrolling in Fisher’s first cohort of the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program.

“I realized that through my years of medical nursing, I frequently found myself in the position of teaching, counseling, or just sitting with patients and families in their distress,” explained Shanahan. “These experiences inspired me to make the change from medical care to mental health care.”

Shanahan gained crucial experience through clinical rotations as part of Fisher’s graduate program. When Sherry Nau, Ed.D., LCSW shared her vision for a mental health clinic that provides care differently than traditional programs in Rochester, Shanahan felt strongly prepared to be the founding PMHNP of Gavia LifeCare Center in March 2021.

“My internship placements all turned into job opportunities in the first two years after graduation, and they equipped me to be the sole PMHNP and prescriber when first developing Gavia LifeCare Center.” The Center now serves more than 1,200 clients with a team of 33 therapists, two RNs, and five PMHNPs.

Now, Shanahan encourages other nurses to develop and advance their careers through Fisher’s graduate-level nursing programs: “The PMHNP program provided mentors to empower me to challenge myself to reach goals that I didn’t even know I had!”

Quarnisha White, RN, MS, FNP-C ’11, ’17

Advanced Practice Provider (APP) Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer

Quarnisha White

Quarnisha White

Quarnisha White is not ashamed to admit that she enjoys a great debate. She started in a legal studies program with her sights on practicing law until she witnessed a loved one’s struggle in the ICU while recovering from multiple gunshot wounds. She began to envision herself as a fierce advocate in the medical field rather than in the courtroom: “I saw nurses caring in a way with such compassion and empathy that my own career path changed.”

She switched her major to nursing and completed her undergraduate program at Fisher in 2011. “The faculty and staff of Fisher’s nursing programs are dedicated to helping you succeed,” explained White. “The programs set you up for success as a future nurse.” She became a nurse at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) and soon enrolled in Fisher’s graduate program for nursing. She became a board-certified nurse practitioner in 2017 and advanced in her career within URMC within the Division of Colorectal Surgery.

White’s path did not always seem so clear. As she reflected on her journey to nursing leadership, she recalled the challenges of being born into poverty, growing up in the foster care system, and becoming a mother at age 17. Equipped with lessons from her own experiences, she is now on a mission to create an environment where each patient is given the same access and opportunity to engage the health care system. “I strive toward a brighter future for our patients and community.”

In 2021, White became the first Advanced Practice Provider (APP) Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer for URMC. Within this leadership role, she focuses on equitable patient engagement and community outreach for which one area of focus has been within the Black community on colorectal cancer and screening. Her experiences combined with her education have positioned her as the advocate she always envisioned. “Without the education that I received from Fisher, I would not be able to have the platform to promote change that I have today.”

White smiles when she sees Fisher students on the hospital floors. “My expectations are high when I see them, but that’s because Fisher made me that way.”