This is another in a series of profiles of health care professionals who have benefited from the Massachusetts Loan Repayment Program (MLRP). The MLRP works to increase access to comprehensive primary care in underserved areas, by providing up to $50,000 towards outstanding educational loans for health professionals who commit to work at an eligible health care organization for two full-time years.
It was only after he had an accident which required serious medical care that Gleidistoney DeOliveira realized he knew very little about the field of medicine – but the experience enticed him to want to learn more. Ultimately he decided to pursue a career in health care, receiving his Registered Nurse (RN) degree at Atlantic Union College and eventually a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) at University of Massachusetts at Lowell.
Today Gleidistoney works as a Clnical Nurse Specialist in the behavioral health center at Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center in Worcester. In this position Gleidistoney performs complete psychiatric evaluations and manages medication plans, among many other behavioral health related tasks. He serves a diverse population in terms of culture and spoken language. Many of his patients require interpreters, and an overwhelming majority of his patients live in poverty.
One of the greatest obstacles Gleidistoney faces in his daily work is that many of his patients are embarrassed to receive mental health services because of the perceived stigma associated with issues of behavioral health. Gleidistoney takes care to help these patients understand that treating mental illness is as important as treating other illnesses. Once patients make this vital connection, they are far more likely to follow treatment plans and take their prescribed medications as they should.
“I have a lot of joy working with this population,” Gleidistoney tells us, “because many times I see patients coming from a very chaotic situation and when they start adhering to their treatment, I see that they are able to build life anew with their families and jobs.”
Being part of that transition is enormously gratifying to Gleidistoney. “It’s really rewarding to see and be a part of that moment when patients begin to understand the need for treatment and start following their treatment plan. This progress is of utmost importance,” he adds.
Gleidistoney decided to apply to the Massachusetts Loan Repayment Program (MLRP) after hearing about it from colleagues.“I saw the MLRP as a great opportunity,” he says, “as I had been working with underserved populations for so long and I didn’t see myself doing anything else.”
The MLRP has helped Gleidistoney to pursue that professional path while relieving some of the financial stress that comes along with it – and in the end helping his community. “It is really rewarding to see that I am useful to a population that is in need of good and accessible behavioral health care,” he says, “and when I help patients better themselves, their families become more stable and we have a better community.”