The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Meet Dr. Mary Ellen Burke, Director of Master's Degree and Certificate Programs

Sep 14, 2020

Mary Ellen Burke, DNP, RN, CNM, CNE, Clinical Assistant Professor at the College of Nursing, has been appointed director of the College's Master’s Degree and Certificate Programs effective September 1, 2020. Dr. Burke completed a BS in Nursing at Rutgers University, an MSN from Case Western Reserve University and a DNP from UMass Amherst. She also earned a certificate in Nurse Midwifery from the Frontier School of Midwifery and Family Nursing and a post-master's certificate in Nursing Education from UMass Worcester. 

She has been on the College of Nursing faculty since 2012.  

Mary Ellen recently shared her reflections and experiences as a nurse:  

What inspired you to become a nurse?

My path to nursing was an indirect one. When I was 19 years old, I was majoring in Journalism and English.  I was taking an interesting elective in nutrition at Rutgers University, in New Brunswick, NJ. I decided to drop into the nursing department one day and I talked with the dean, who encouraged me to apply to the BSN program. My career in nursing has grown along with me from my start as a 19-year-old student to the nurse I am today.

What are some highlights of your career so far?  

I was interested in maternity care in nursing school and my clinical instructor told me that I would make a good midwife. After graduating from nursing school, I worked as a labor and delivery nurse. I eventually went back to school to become a nurse midwife, which is one of the highlights of my career. 

The other highlight of my career is teaching all the amazing students at UMass Amherst. I always loved college and I feel privileged that I can now teach a new generation of nurses and be part of a vibrant academic community.

What are your hopes and plans for the future? 

As director of the Master’s program I hope to create and grow a connected community of learners who will use their education to improve the health outcomes for the clients they care for and prepare the next generation of nurses for excellence in practice. My goal is to stay connected to students, faculty and staff as we collaborate to create excellent programs of study that will benefit students and the communities they serve. 

Do you have any advice for people who are considering a career in nursing? 

My advice for students who are thinking about their future is to consider advancing their education. A graduate degree in nursing opens up a greater number of possibilities of options for your career path. As a nurse with a graduate degree you have greater flexibility to move from the bedside to teaching to higher-level practice and grow within your profession

Would you like to share any more information about yourself?

A little bit about me: I grew up and went to school in New Jersey, 15 miles outside of New York City. I live now with my family in a rural Hill town in Massachusetts. I have three grown daughters and two cats. I enjoy traveling, cooking, reading and politics. 

I am looking forward to meeting with and working with all the students, faculty and staff in the program!