Rochester native named New York’s Student Nurse Practitioner of the Year

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Rochester native Mary Starks has been named Student Nurse Practitioner of the Year for New York. These awards are given annually, and the Nurse Practitioner Association New York State (NPANYS) is the only statewide association supporting healthcare workers throughout the Empire State.

Starks said some of her focus is expanding telehealth services, while we deal with nationwide staffing shortages.

"Hopefully this is an inspiration to other students to go for the big things in life,” Starks said.

The fear of COVID-19 didn’t keep Starks from learning different ways to save lives.

"Luckily, within my program, they didn’t stop us from doing any type of clinical rotation or any type of classes,” Starks said.

Starks is a graduate student in the dual family nurse practitioner masters and doctorate program at University of Rochester School of Nursing. Along with her studies, she works as a skilled vascular surgery nurse and preceptor at Strong Memorial. With a focus on caring for those with chronic diseases, the pandemic ignited a passion for Starks in advancing telehealth too.

"The digital world that we’re going into, Zoom is not going away any time soon, it’s convenient for a lot of patients especially those who live in rural areas," Starks said. "One being introduced to it in, but also knowing that our profession relies on innovation.”

Starks said through staffing shortages, she saw firsthand the deployment of student nurses.

"After talking to some of the student nurses, they’re handling it really well. We would allow them to do basic nursing care, so bed baths and maybe hanging antibiotics, things like that,” Starks said.

Starks has one semester left and then she’ll be taking on a role as a family nurse practitioner.