Nursing grad wins 'Young Person of the Year' award

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Michael Newell knew from a very young age that he wanted to work in healthcare.

Although originally planning to apply to college as a pre-med major, once he shadowed health professionals from all areas of medicine, he realized nursing was the best fit for his career.

“I could see that nurses spent more time with the patient,” Newell says. “That’s what I wanted to do.”

Today, Newell, 26, is an R.N. in home care with the Granite VNA (Visiting Nurse Association) in Concord and a preceptor mentoring younger nurses as part of the VNA’s Nurse Residency Program.

“I knew from my initial meeting with Michael that he was smart beyond his years and that he would be a strong leader even at his young age,” says Cynthia Bergeron, RN, BSN, home care director at the Granite VNA. “He is confident in his ability to provide the best possible care to homecare patients.”

Bergeron says even though most young nurses are tentative and often seek reassurance, Michael is “the complete opposite.”

“What is even more amazing is that he provides in-home care to one of New Hampshire’s most racially and ethnically diverse populations,” she says. “At this critical juncture in New Hampshire’s history, where we need nurses more than ever, Michael is a nurse who I never have to think twice about assigning a difficult patient or case.”

Certainly, the impact Newell has had in his young career and the larger community hasn’t gone unnoticed.

He was chosen as the 2023 “Young Person of the Year” by Stay Work Play New Hampshire during its 14th Annual Rising Stars Awards, recognizing the state’s remarkable young people 40 and under.

At UNH, where Newell earned his B.S. in nursing, he was a prestigious Hamel Scholar recipient, earned departmental honors and was in the University Honors Program. He also volunteered for the Waysmeet Center food pantry, was a STEM and Classic mentor for the CONNECT program, a board member for the United Asian Coalition (UAC) and the business manager for the Diversity Support Coalition (DSC) – which seeks to promote, educate and support multiculturism, diversity and equality.

“What I liked about being part of so many different organizations at UNH was that I got to meet so many people from so many backgrounds,” says Newell, who, as a transgender man, also is passionate about incorporating LGBTQ education in nursing and nursing programs and chose that as the topic for his senior honors thesis at UNH.

Once he completed his senior year immersion rotation with the VNA, though, he knew he wanted to be a home care nurse upon graduation with an ultimate goal of one day becoming a nurse educator.

“I love the autonomy and being able to see patients where they’re at, literally and figuratively, getting to know them in their own homes and home environments” Newell says. “As I see it, VNA is the least specialized specialty. There isn’t really ‘a day in the life’ because every day is different. You see people after procedures, for wound care, for chronic conditions, whatever they need. I really love it.”