CNHS Celebrates Harvard Pilgrim-Supported SAIL Program, Announces New Student Success Initiative

Colleen Locke | Thu Jun 13, 2019

260 Have Gone Through Set Sail for Success Program Since 2014

UMass Boston’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences celebrated Harvard Pilgrim Health Care’s financial support of the Set Sail for Success program recently with its signature event, a conversation with the chief medical director of the Dimock Center.

SAIL stands for social, academic, and interprofessional leadership. Since 2014, this first-year learning community has provided 260 freshmen with access to academic support, peer mentoring, technology enabled learning strategies, community engagement opportunities, and the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Speaker Series. And the program has worked.

“We have seen the participants in the SAIL program accumulate higher grade point averages and more academic credits than their non-SAIL student peers,” Interim Chancellor Katherine Newman said in her opening remarks.

“We’re very proud of the success of this program over the past five years,” said Patrick Cahill, vice president of the Massachusetts market for Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. “It’s not just the financial investment we’ve made to the program, it’s the people, it’s the different things that we’ve been able to help working with you.”

Harvard Pilgrim has supported the program for the last five years with a grant that runs out this year. At the start of the event, College of Nursing and Health Sciences Dean Linda Thompson announced the first-year experience program would be expanding through a new initiative called College of Nursing and Health Sciences First Year Scholars.

College of Nursing and Health Sciences Dean Linda Thompson

Thompson then introduced Newman, who led a conversation with Dr. Holly Oh, the chief medical director of The Dimock Center. The nine-acre campus in Roxbury serves 17,000 patients a year through its primary care health services, programmatic line around addictions, early childhood education, and continuing adult education. Oh talked about how integration makes it easier for patients to access the different types of services they need and easier for staff to coordinate care in a holistic way. She said team culture is also incredibly important, and the idea that different areas bring their own expertise to the table.

“When we’re trying to improve the process, it’s important it’s not just the doctor. You have to get the nurse at the table, the front desk at the table, the patient at the table. You have to get all those voices at the table,” Oh said.

Holly Oh and Interim Chancellor Katherine Newman

Oh said although not all workplaces are team oriented, she recommended that the UMass Boston nursing students in the room interact with and interface with people outside the nursing field.

“I do feel strongly that college is a great time to do not just your learning in the classroom, but your learning outside the classroom. So all those activities that you may be doing on the outside, take advantage of them now. It doesn’t have to be in health care,” Oh said. “It is really great to learn how to communicate, interact, interface with people who don’t have the same background as you.”

College of Nursing and Health Sciences students

When a student asked for advice about getting into health care administration, Oh reiterated the importance of practicing communication and interpersonal skills. Another student asked about nursing burnout – what causes it and how to prevent it.

“Burnout comes when you don’t feel like you have agency,” Oh said. “Look for places that have stuff that you can be passionate about – cultures that will allow you to grow, to learn, to voice when things are not going so great. … Learn how to constructively advocate for yourself. … The other thing I’m going to say that’s protective against burnout is balance. It is pretty important, I think, to find ways to balance your whole life. I think it’s terrific to find a career that you feel passionate about your everyday work, but it’s also important to have stuff outside of your career that you feel passionate about.”

“You’ve heard a lot about finding your passion … and the reason we’re here – continuous learning,” Thompson said in her closing remarks. “In order for you to be a professional, when you graduate, that’s not the end of your education, that’s just the beginning.”

About UMass Boston
The University of Massachusetts Boston is deeply rooted in the city’s history, yet poised to address the challenges of the future. Recognized for innovative research, metropolitan Boston’s public university offers its diverse student population both an intimate learning environment and the rich experience of a great American city. UMass Boston’s 10 colleges and graduate schools serve more than 16,000 students while engaging local and global constituents through academic programs, research centers, and public service. To learn more, visit