Alumnus' capstone project helped him find his home

October 14, 2021

Headshot of Kyle Dineen.

The fast-paced intensive care environment and ability to connect with patients is what attracted Kyle Dineen ’20 to his current position as a registered nurse in the Medical Surgical Intensive Care Unit at St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford.

Dineen discovered his passion while completing his capstone project in that same unit during his senior year. “I was able to get my feet wet,” he said. And he made an impression at the same time.

“In the ICU, you get two patients at a time and are very involved in their care,” he said. “I usually work three nights in a row, and I like the fact that you know your patient from the inside out and can see their progression.”

Dineen also enjoys the interdisciplinary nature of the job. “I work directly with physicians, physician assistants and intensivists [who specialize in the care of critically ill patients]. I see a lot of procedures you may not see anywhere else. We deal with medical, trauma and surgical patients — a real mix here — and I love that about the floor.”

While majoring in nursing, Dineen completed a minor in global public health. Disparities and inequities in the health care system have always troubled him. In his junior year, he traveled to South Africa to observe that country’s health care system and its challenges, and he was able to witness the social determinants of health in action. He focused on that topic for his capstone course, and the information has been useful in his own career.

In a metropolitan area like Hartford, Dineen said it’s common to treat disadvantaged individuals and others who don’t routinely follow up with health care or simply cannot access it because they cannot afford it. He said his nursing courses at Quinnipiac emphasized cultural competence and holistic care.

“Obviously, the physical aspects of health play a massive part, but we learn to treat the whole person — the mental and spiritual — not just the body,” he said.

Dineen was exposed to the nursing profession by his aunt, a nurse practitioner, who would tell him how much she enjoyed her job. “She also talked about all the avenues you can take and the limitless opportunities. I love what I do now, but I know that in the future, I could just as easily move to some other discipline in nursing or transition to an outpatient setting, or I could go back and get a master’s or doctorate in nursing—there are so many things to do,” he noted.

While at Quinnipiac, he volunteered at the Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen in New Haven and did a poster presentation for one of his global public health classes on food insecurity in the area.

He credits Debra Fisher, assistant dean of student services in the School of Nursing, for supporting him with resume building and mock interviews as he looked for a nursing position. He also appreciated the opportunity to learn in Quinnipiac’s simulation labs.

“The fact that QU has such a robust simulation program is unique, it’s as close to an actual setting as you can get,” he said, adding that he and his fellow students felt they had a leg up on students from other schools they met during clinicals.

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