Graduates of Penn State Hazleton's practical nursing program marked the successful completion of the program during a ceremony on Wednesday, December 16, in the Dr. Thomas M. Caccese Gymnasium in the Physical Education Building. Twenty-six students completed the requirements to earn a certificate in practical nursing and will be eligible to test for the National Council Licensure Examination-Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN).
The class began their studies in July 2014 for the 18-month program offered in the evening and on weekends in the classroom and laboratory in the lower level of the Slusser/Bayzick Building. Students took classes at Penn State Hazleton and attended clinical studies at area partner facilities.
Chancellor Gary M. Lawler presided over the ceremony along with Director of Academic Affairs Elizabeth J. Wright and Practical Nursing Program Coordinator Karen A. Lightcap.
Guest speaker for the event was Lynne M. Patzek Miller, R.N., M.S.N., C.N.Adm., whose career in healthcare spanned more than 40 years, culminating in 2012 with her retirement as chief administrative officer of the Hazleton Health and Wellness Center.
Miller, who comes from a family with 10 nurses, has worked in various nursing fields during her career, including pediatrics, home health, medical-surgical, emergency department, intensive care, wound care and telemetry. She has experience in nursing management as a hospital supervisor, director of various hospital departments, vice president and chief administrative officer. Her experience has provided her the ability to be involved in hospital informatics and the opportunity to create pediatric clinics and wound care centers. As vice president of outpatient services with the Greater Hazleton Health Alliance, she helped oversee the design and creation of the Hazleton Health and Wellness Center. Under her direction, the center consistently received top scores in the Press-Gamey Patient survey, which measures customer service excellence in health care.
She has served as an adjunct faculty member at Gwynedd Mercy College School of Nursing and Penn State Hazleton, where she taught a Nursing Leadership certification program. She has published articles in many clinical nursing publications and is a healthcare consultant and motivational speaker.
Miller holds a diploma from Abington Memorial Hospital School of Nursing, a bachelor's degree in Healthcare Administration from Philadelphia University and a master's degree in Clinical Nursing and Education from Gwynedd Mercy College. She has also earned postgraduate certifications in Leadership, Clinical Research and Nursing Administration.
She has received numerous awards, including Nurse Excellence Awards, Marquis Who's Who of American Women (2005-2007), Medicine and Healthcare (2005-2007), In America (2003-2004) and In the World (2003-2004), and in 2011, the Hazleton YWCA's PEARL Award in the category of business and industry.
During the ceremony, graduates received their certificates and pins to signify successful completion of the program.
Graduates and their hometowns include Rhonda M. Allen, Mifflinville; Elaine E. Castellon, Hazle Township; Yanisset C. Cedano, Hazleton; Sarah M. DeBenedict, Tamaqua; Mabel A. Dominguez, Hazleton; Susan L. Dorward, Lehighton; Andreina Y. Fernandez, Hazleton; Jessica M. Gambino, Hazleton; Heather A. Gennarini, Shenandoah; Andrea J. Jadush, McAdoo; Lucena F. Jones, Mountain Top; MaryLee E. Kash, Sheppton; Patricia A. LeCroy, Ashland; Albeiri Mejia, Hazleton; Erin A. Michalowski, Bloomsburg; Kayleen Noggle, Freeland; Sarah E. Novotney, Harleigh; LeeAnne O'Hearn, Ashland; Carol S. Ortiz, Hazleton; RaeAnn K. Phile, Drums; Susan M. Powell, Palmerton; Melissa R. Sole, Hazleton; Ronda L. Strauser, Orangeville; Santa L. Turbi, Hazleton; Terrie L. Waldron, Freeland; and Cassandra D. Yannes, Bloomsburg.
Several members of the graduating class also earned special recognition with an award. The awards and winners included:
- Excellence in Clinical Practice, an award presented to the nursing student who best displays a high regard for clinical care and clinical aptitude. Instructor in practical nursing Laura Jones presented this award to Rhonda M. Allen.
- Academic Achievement, which is presented to the student earning the highest overall grade-point average. Instructor in practical nursing Denise Kelly presented this award to Jessica M. Gambino.
- Award for Leadership and Professionalism, which recognizes outstanding leadership and professionalism during the nursing education process. Instructor in practical nursing Joann Famalette presented this award to LeeAnne O'Hearn.
- Most Compassionate, an award presented to the student who displays exceptional emotional capacities of empathy and sympathy for others. Instructor in practical nursing Lori Reiner presented this award to Kayleen Noggle.
- Community Service, which is presented to the student who displays the initiative to reach out to those in need within the community. Instructor in practical nursing Andrea McAloose presented this award to Elaine E. Castellon.
- Spirit of Nursing Award, which recognizes the student who shows excitement, motivation and enthusiasm toward the nursing profession. Instructor in practical nursing Roxanne Downs presented this award to Patricia A. LeCroy.
The next class of practical nursing students will begin on July 19. For additional information, Continuing Education's Practical Nursing website pages.
Graduation photos are available at the Penn State Hazleton Facebook page.