Sunday, May 19, 2024

Alumnus motivates undergrads

Plattsburgh State alumnus Hassan Tetteh came to PSUC to make a presentation on the future trends of healthcare.

However, he gave PSUC students the extra boost of motivation when he went beyond the medical field to talk about life lessons he’s learned throughout and after college.

Tetteh, a United States Navy Commander and assistant professor of surgery at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, gave a presentation to students April 20 and 21.
He also talked to nursing students about the past, present and future trends in healthcare and had signed copies of his book “Gifts of the Heart”, which is available on Amazon, eBookIt and Barnes and Noble.

Tetteh addressed the healthcare system’s history and how it came to be what it is today.

He dived into the aspects of healthcare, such as the hygiene of hospitals and the amount of money spent. Tetteh said it’s important for students to understand why healthcare is important for their futures.

“They are going to be the people who are creating the future of healthcare, and so for that reason alone, (nursing) students should care about healthcare,” Tetteh said. “And if you’re not interested or don’t plan on having a role in it in the future, you will at some time potentially be the subject or victim of healthcare.”

He also said if people are going to be contributing money to healthcare, the investments should be going to a good cause, which is a reliable healthcare system.

“From a practical standpoint, if you don’t care about any of that other stuff, there is no mistake that if you’re in America and you are a taxpayer, your tax dollars and those resources that you work hard for are being spent on healthcare,” Tetteh said.

However, he didn’t just focus on healthcare. He related back to the students by describing his own experiences at PSUC. Tetteh said he wanted students to understand something essential.

“That it’s okay to fail, most importantly, to keep going and be resilient and be persistent even in spite of your failures,” he said. “No success will ever come without taking a chance and a risk and having the potential of failing.”

PSUC nursing and nutrition associate professor Lisa Wells attended the presentation on Wednesday and thought Tetteh was a great speaker. She said she appreciated his friendly and outgoing nature that he took the time to share his ups and downs with the students.

“I thought it was excellent. I thought he touched on lifelong thoughts on what he thought these students would be facing in the future with health care in general,” she said. “I would want students to know that change is inevitable and constant learning is key especially in the healthcare system.”

She said he identified that students should constantly be educating themselves.

During his presentation, Tetteh told students to pay attention to one particular slide. He said if they only took away one thing from his presentation, it should be about the book, “5 Minds for the Future,” by Howard Gardner.

He said the reason why the book appealed to him was because of the five minds that distinguish what makes people successful.

“Think about it. If you’re good at one thing, and you dedicate about 10 years to being really good at just that one thing, you’d probably be one of the best in that field,” he said. “Most people don’t do that. Most people will bounce around and do this and do that.”

Tetteh said synthesizing is key for success because students sometimes don’t understand how to use a plethora of information.

“They don’t know what to do with it. If they can take those resources and use them to be creative, then that’s really great,” he said.

Tetteh said it’s important to be respectful because judging others can lead to missing out on what another individual can teach a person.

Finally, he said being ethical leads to helping others. He said if people don’t share their knowledge, the world won’t be able to evolve.

Junior nursing major Ekele Adjaero said she enjoyed the event. She said it was a great opportunity to listen to someone who has a lot of experience in the medical field to help nursing students.

“For (Tetteh) who is a surgeon, who has a book, who has been in Afghanistan and in the military and everything, he has a vast array of experience,” Adjaero said.

From his speech, Adjaero said she was surprised by how healthcare wasn’t patient-centered in the past.

“What he said was actually true. Before you would have to go to different physicians and make several appointments,” she said.

During the question and answer portion of his lecture, Adjaero asked how he’s been able to accomplish so much in his life thus far. She said she asked the question because she’s just a junior but she feels pressure already.

“There’s always this fear that if I won’t get the required grade, or what if I drop out of the program, or what if I can’t handle everything because it’s so stressful?” she said.

She said she also wanted him to relate to the students about his experiences in certain classes.

“Asking him that question would take him back to his undergraduate years, and maybe he’ll be able to encourage everyone,” she said. “We all need encouragement. We’re all stressed out.”

Tetteh said he was glad that so many students reacted so positively to his presentation and wants to return back to PSUC. He said he hopes his presentation was able to give students the extra motivation for their future endeavors.

“The best way not to succeed is not to do anything,” he said.

Email Kavita Singh at

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