Keuka College proves, ‘It’s never too late’

“I don't believe that Keuka College looks at your age,” says Tom Finn ’17, who earned his master’s degree as a nurse practitioner in his 60s. “They look at what you bring to the table.”

Monday, November 4, 2019
2 min. read

When Tom Finn graduated with his nursing degree from Genesee Community College in the mid-1970s, the role of nurse practitioner was relatively new. The position grew came out of a lack of physicians, particularly in rural areas.

It was a role Tom thought about, on and off, for years. More than 40 years, to be exact.

Tom graduated from Keuka College's first AGPCNP AOE program in 2017. You might say he defined the term “older student.”

Over the years, he’d been a nurse in emergency rooms, medical/surgical facilities, and orthopedics departments. And in 2010, he graduated from Keuka College’s AOE BSN program in Batavia. But his “innate desire” to pursue a nurse practitioner degree never left him

“I found that nurses with experience had a good foundation for the role,” Tom says.

But he couldn't find a program that fit his schedule. He’d looked at other colleges, “but the model that Keuka provided was the clincher.”

Then Keuka College announced its first AGPCNP program. By this time, Tom was in his mid-60s.

“I almost felt like it was too late for me,” he says. “I only had five days left to apply. I talked it over with my wife about whether I should do it.”

With family support, Tom decided to go for it.

“I wanted to challenge myself,” he says. “I really felt: I can do this.”

Knowing Keuka College's culture from his earlier BSN experience, he trusted that his age wouldn’t be a factor.

“I don’t believe that Keuka College looks at your age,” he says. “They look at what you bring to the table – they value your experience as an individual."

As a member of the first cohort of the AGPCNP program, Tom loved the camaraderie, large network, and close friendships that were created, and the enthusiasm and availability of the professors.

He especially enjoyed the scientific areas of the courses, like pharmacology.

“No doubt, it gets stressful at times. But the courses were outstanding,” he says. “They really drew everything together for me.”

In fact, he says, he was surprised at how much he enjoyed them.

After graduating and taking his Boards in 2017, Tom entertained multiple job offers, eventually choosing an independent family practice with a physician in Batavia.

He doesn’t sugarcoat the realities of the role.

“It’s a lot of work, carrying a burden of decisions,” Tom says. “You have experience knowing the pressures nurses will face. But good clinical instincts come from experience.”

And he’s happy where he is, and that Keuka College helped put him there.

“It feels more like an old-time town practice, where you have familiarity with patients,” Tom says. “Nurse practitioners have a more human touch. Their focus has always been on patient care – how to care for people, and talk with them. We listen to patients more, and we have a background in intervention. You’re looking at life in a linear nature with health.”