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School of Nursing & Health Sciences hosts celebration


The School of Nursing & Health Sciences at Pennsylvania College of Technology held a multifaceted celebration on Oct. 4 by hosting an open house of its facilities and welcoming accomplished alumni, who reflected on how their education has shaped their careers.

“We come together … to celebrate the positive impact all 10 of our nursing and health sciences programs have on our students’ lives, the professions in which they work, and the communities they serve,” said Sandra L. Richmond, dean of nursing and health sciences.

Of particular significance during the celebration was a change to the school’s name: from the School of Health Sciences to the School of Nursing & Health Sciences, and the anniversaries of the occupational therapy assistant program, whose first students graduated 30 years ago, and the physician assistant program, which graduated its first students 20 years ago.

Pennsylvania College of Technology welcomed several School of Nursing & Health Sciences alumni back to campus to speak at an event celebrating the school’s name change, its academic majors, and milestone anniversaries for two programs: occupational therapy assistant (30 years) and physician assistant (20 years). From left are Megan Wright, ’12, a physician assistant practicing physical medicine and rehabilitation; Brian Webster, ’06, a nurse practitioner specializing in emergency and family nursing; President Davie Jane Gilmour; Sandra L. Richmond, dean of nursing and health sciences; and Michele “Mindy” Tedesco, ’88, a registered occupational therapist specializing in home health care.
Pennsylvania College of Technology welcomed several School of Nursing & Health Sciences alumni back to campus to speak at an event celebrating the school’s name change, its academic majors, and milestone anniversaries for two programs: occupational therapy assistant (30 years) and physician assistant (20 years). From left are Megan Wright, ’12, a physician assistant practicing physical medicine and rehabilitation; Brian Webster, ’06, a nurse practitioner specializing in emergency and family nursing; President Davie Jane Gilmour; Sandra L. Richmond, dean of nursing and health sciences; and Michele “Mindy” Tedesco, ’88, a registered occupational therapist specializing in home health care.

The decision to change the school’s name was not made lightly, Penn College President Davie Jane Gilmour told the gathering.

“First, it reflects the fact that our nursing program enrolls more students than any other academic cluster at Penn College,” Gilmour said. “Second, it recognizes the critical need for more nurses in Pennsylvania and the nation.”

Since enrolling its first students in 1963, nursing at the college has grown from a small, 12-month certificate program to an enrollment of more than 400 students in five bachelor- and associate-degree nursing majors in Fall 2018.

As the nation faces an aging population, there is an urgent, long-term need for more nurses.

“This critical need must be addressed primarily by nursing schools such as ours producing more highly skilled graduates to replace the retirees and those opting to leave the profession,” Gilmour said.

Also speaking at the celebration were Penn College alumni Brian Webster, ’06, a nurse practitioner who specializes in emergency and family nursing; Michele “Mindy” Tedesco, ’88, a registered occupational therapist who specializes in home health care; and Megan Wright, ’12, a physician assistant practicing physical medicine and rehabilitation.

Webster teaches for Frontier Nursing University and works in UPMC Susquehanna’s emergency department. He holds a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, is a fellow of the Academy of Wilderness Medicine and is passionate about disaster medical relief, wilderness medicine and providing care to the medically underserved.

Tedesco is a member of the college’s first graduating class of occupational therapy assistant students. She holds a Bachelor of Science in occupational therapy and a Master of Education, is employed by UPMC Susquehanna Home Care, and owns Caring for You Inc., a private, in-home health care service.

Wright practices in Baltimore. She holds a Master of Science in physician assistant studies and is working toward a doctorate in health administration. She is the coauthor of “An update on the pharmacological management and treatment of neuropathic pain,” published in the March 2017 Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants.  She received the college’s Alumni Achievement Award in 2016.

Penn College’s School of Nursing & Health Sciences offers academic programs in applied health studies, dental hygiene, emergency medical services/paramedic, health information technology, nursing, occupational therapy assistant, physical therapist assistant, physician assistant, radiography/medical imaging, and surgical technology. To learn more, call 570-327-4519.

For information about Penn College, a national leader in applied technology education, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

– Photos by Cindy Davis Meixel, writer/photo editor

Alumni speaker Webster talks with Richmond, dean of nursing and health sciences.
Alumni speaker Webster talks with Richmond, dean of nursing and health sciences.

Richmond served as emcee, delivering opening and closing remarks and introducing the alumni speakers.
Richmond served as emcee, delivering opening and closing remarks and introducing the alumni speakers.

Alumni speaker Tedesco (right) converses with Linda M. Barnes, associate professor of occupational therapy assistant.
Alumni speaker Tedesco (right) converses with Linda M. Barnes, associate professor of occupational therapy assistant.

The ATHS atrium offers a beautiful venue for the gathering.
The ATHS atrium offers a beautiful venue for the gathering.

Alumni speaker Wright expresses appreciation for her academic foundation which is being put to use delivering health care in Baltimore.
Alumni speaker Wright expresses appreciation for her academic foundation which is being put to use delivering health care in Baltimore.

Guests listen as the college president details the school's evolution.
Guests listen as the college president details the school’s evolution.

Some of the nursing instructors delight in a group pose outside the ATHS. From left: Sherry L. Hyland, Tonja R. Pennycoff, Dawn E. Murafka, Ann E. Morrison and Kimberly A. Brenchley.
Some of the nursing instructors delight in a group pose outside the ATHS. From left: Sherry L. Hyland, Tonja R. Pennycoff, Dawn E. Murafka, Ann E. Morrison and Kimberly A. Brenchley.

In the newly renovated occupational therapy assistant lab, Jeanne M. Kerschner (left), director of occupational therapy assistant, visits with Amanda Hickoff, a member of the program advisory committee, and occupational therapy assistant alumni Michelle Sember and Rachel Craig. Hickoff and Sember are also fieldwork educators for occupational therapy assistant students.
In the newly renovated occupational therapy assistant lab, Jeanne M. Kerschner (left), director of occupational therapy assistant, visits with Amanda Hickoff, a member of the program advisory committee, and occupational therapy assistant alumni Michelle Sember and Rachel Craig. Hickoff and Sember are also fieldwork educators for occupational therapy assistant students.

Scott A. Geist, director of surgical technology, shows visitors a laparoscopic simulator.
Scott A. Geist, director of surgical technology, shows visitors a laparoscopic simulator.

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