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Columbia Nursing Graduate Spotlight Series: Robert Spigai, Jr.


This is 1 of 4 in Columbia Nursing’s 2017 Graduate Spotlight series.


After receiving a BA in Psychology from Boston College and a MS in Mental Health Counseling from Yeshiva University, Robert Spigai, Jr., MS, FNP, worked in various therapy offices throughout the New York City and Westchester areas.


While working full-time as a therapist, Robert began taking the necessary pre-requisites for nursing and eventually entered into the accelerated Baccalaureate program for non-nursing college graduates at Columbia University School of Nursing. Robert received both his BS and MS degrees from Columbia Nursing. While in school, Robert worked in the Intensive Care Unit at a hospital in Middletown, NY.


Throughout the nursing program, he also gained experience working with providers at various outpatient clinics and hospitals throughout New York City. Robert has also performed standup comedy at multiple locations in the city and enjoys playing the piano.



Why did you choose Columbia Nursing?


My aspiration has always been to be the best possible nurse I can be. Columbia Nursing has a reputation of being a top-tier school offering an elite education. Immersing myself into such a prestigious institution was important to me because my goal was to reach beyond solely becoming a competent healthcare provider. The affinity I have for nursing comes from a desire to help those who are vulnerable and in need. Through my research, Columbia Nursing seemed to offer the best possible opportunity for me to accomplish my goals.


As a 2017 graduate, how does it feel?


First and foremost, I am elated to begin a new career that will not only be challenging, but also rewarding. Becoming skilled in any field requires hard work, patience, and persistence. I look forward to becoming more knowledgeable and experienced as a healthcare provider. I am very passionate about my career and as I strive to become better with each passing year, I know I will continually feel rewarded.


What did you gain from your education at Columbia Nursing?


Through the attention to detail that is emphasized here at Columbia Nursing, I developed an appreciation for the understanding of basic nursing and biochemical processes on a fundamental level. It is extremely helpful to be able to think critically and logically about what causes that accelerates the onset of certain conditions. Providing care to populations that are pre-disposed to specific health conditions can be more effective when you are taught to dig deeper. After all, it is important to first understand a problem fully in order to address a solution.


What’s the next step in your career?


The transition between academia and the real world is an important one. Finding a team of providers that is motivated and dedicated to helping others is a key step. I hope to find a clinic that shares these values. Also, I feel that surrounding myself with experienced practitioners who are willing to “show me the ropes” will be extremely beneficial in the early stages of my career because I believe that good habits should be established from the outset. It is much more difficult to break bad habits and replace them with the proper techniques later on.


Do you have a favorite memory of your time at Columbia Nursing?


Throughout one’s schooling, there’s always a professor that influences you and impacts your life in a very positive way. Sally Aboelela, PhD, Assistant Professor of Nursing, is that professor for me. She is extremely passionate about conveying information to students. The comprehensiveness of her classes was a favorite memory for me during this program.


Professor Aboelela has an uncanny and unrivaled ability to break down the most difficult of processes into its basic building blocks, a characteristic that is most appreciated by the majority of students who have been fortunate enough to take her class. I will forever be grateful to her for not only assisting me on my nursing journey, but also for setting an example for nurse practitioners everywhere.


How did Columbia Nursing make you a better nurse?


Columbia Nursing helped me to launch a career in a field where learning and striving to be better never ceases. It reaffirmed for me how important nursing is for the people who trust us with their lives. I feel a great responsibility to move forward from my academic career and apply myself in a way that brings out the best of my abilities to help others.  Although my formal education has come to a close, the continual process of refining and expanding my knowledge base will continue. I look forward to using these newly acquired skills as a nurse practitioner to not only improving people’s lives, but also to continue to help grow the already amazing reputation of the family nurse practitioner.