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Volunteer Spotlight

Mary: Volunteer NCLEX Tutor


How One Volunteer Serves Immigrant Nursing Students

April 3, 2024 | We’re highlighting the impressive work of our volunteers all month long in honor of Global Volunteer Month and Volunteer Appreciation Week, April 21-27. Learn more about what inspires and motivates Mary, a long-time volunteer for the Institute’s Medical Career Advancement program, in this question and answer series spotlighting our volunteers.

1) Why do you choose to donate your time to the International Institute of Minnesota?

I believe in the work that is done at the Institute and I know the positive impact this work has on many lives. Our country is stronger because of the immigrant population. What is offered at IIMN to help New Americans adjust and adapt to live in Minnesota and our country is vital.

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Mary, a volunteer NCLEX tutor

2) What kind of volunteering do you do with us?

I started off helping with citizenship applications but have moved over to the Medical Career Advancement program. I am a nurse and nurse educator and felt I could impact those wishing to advance their education in a healthcare field. I do individual tutoring for clients that are nursing students as well as those that have graduated and are preparing for their nursing NCLEX board exam. I created and teach a NCLEX Review course that the Institute has been offering twice a year for the past two years. I have also helped with practice interviews for those in the leadership program.

3) Why is this work important to you?

I believe in this work as a health care professional because we need more diversity in our health care fields. Patients trust health care providers that look like them, sound like them, and can understand their cultural preferences with first-hand knowledge. The clients that I have helped achieve their dream of becoming a nurse in our country are so kind, compassionate, and grateful for the assistance they receive. They are the reason I come back to volunteer.

It’s amazing and so very rewarding to see their success after witnessing their hard work in overcoming a language barrier and being in a different culture. ─ Mary, volunteer nursing tutor

4) Can you share a memory of a volunteer moment that helped make this work rewarding for you?

I remember a client that had been unsuccessful in passing the NCLEX exam a couple of times before I started working with her. We met at coffee shops, the library, her home, and worked on test taking strategies, test content, and completed countless practice questions. I told her I thought she was ready, and though she did not feel ready, she applied and took the exam. I will never forget where I was and how proud of her I felt when she called me to let me know she had passed. It’s amazing and so very rewarding to me to see their success after witnessing their hard work in overcoming a language barrier and being in a different culture ─ often while being away from family or having demanding personal obligations that makes attending school difficult.

5) What kind of impact do you hope your volunteer work has?

In my job as a nursing instructor I saw first-hand how one student of mine walked into a room to meet her patient ─ both were of Asian descent. This patient had been withdrawn, refusing to eat, refusing diagnostic tests, and was unreachable by the health care team. She walked in and he brightened up, began to listen to the healthcare providers, and agreed to treatment. This was after just two days spent with this student. I believe that my small role to help each client to become a nurse will impact countless lives and make a stronger health care field that will have many positive outcomes for patients.

Thank you to Mary for sharing her story and to all our volunteers for the work you do to help New Americans become self-sufficient and reach their dreams.


Become a Volunteer

From virtual to in-person opportunities, we have a variety of chances for individuals and groups to volunteer at IIMN. Your time and talents are an essential part of our success in welcoming New Americans to Minnesota.

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