We’re proud of the ambitions and accomplishments of our students and alumni – learn some of their stories in our monthly feature:

Student Spotlight

Taylor Apple ’23
Cardiovascular Technology program

Students often share that a personal experience with illness or injury, or that of a loved one, inspired them to pursue a career in health care. For Taylor Apple, the many X-Rays, MRIs and CT scans she has had over the years resulting from her hip dysplasia led her down this path. Affecting both of her hips, Taylor also had surgery at age 15 to help correct this condition.

After attending Bloomsburg University for three years, she is now enrolled at PA College for her final year of study. She will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Medical Imaging from Bloomsburg University (May 2023), and a certificate in Cardiovascular Technology from PA College (August 2023). “I chose PA College because of all the opportunities and the program options,” Taylor shares.  “My program is not offered at many schools, but it is a career that is in high demand.   I find it so beneficial that the college offers a simulation lab where I can practice and prefect my skills that I will use in my clinical rotations. I also feel that I have so many more opportunities to interact with my classmates and my instructors in a smaller, more personal environment.”

Taylor hopes to always continue to improve her skills so that she can be a well-rounded professional in all procedure types and be ready to help wherever she is needed. She adds: “I also want to develop the social/mental traits to be a reliable team member that helps to improve the catheterization lab’s function and the experience of our patients. I hope that my work has a positive impact on my patients for not only their health, but for their overall comfort throughout their procedures. My goal is to improve their day not only by helping to fix their heart issues, but to also be a friendly face to ease any anxiety about the procedure.” Taylor is considering furthering her education to pursue a different cardio technology position such as in the electrophysiology lab.

When she’s not busy with her studies, Taylor enjoys hunting, fishing, sports and anything outdoors. She adopted a cat named Isabelle from an animal shelter during the COVID-19 pandemic, who helps keep Taylor company while she’s away from home.

 

Alumni Spotlight

Colleen Jones Hilliard, RN ’84
Perioperative Services, Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health

Nancy Wittle Jones, RN ’48
Retired, Lancaster General Hospital

Nancy Wittle Jones, age 94, still remembers visiting her mother while she was a patient at the former Rossmere Sanitarium after she contracted tuberculosis from Nancy’s aunt, whom she helped care for during her own illness. Rest and fresh air were the prescribed treatment of the day and Nancy recalls her how mother and other patients gathered on a sunporch, bundled up against the cold air. Her decision to pursue a nursing career was in part inspired by this childhood experience. Nancy was able to afford her education thanks to the Cadet Nurse Corp, a federal program created during World War II to address critical nursing shortages during wartime.  According to Nancy’s 1948 yearbook (for which she was editor), many of her Lancaster General Hospital School of Nursing classmates were also Cadets. Together, they celebrated V-E Day on May 8, 1945, just a few months into their studies.

Yet these busy students had little time for reflection – in addition to their classroom lectures from hospital physicians, Nancy and her peers had numerous duties with respect to patients, including helping to prepare and distribute meal trays, (endlessly) sharpening needles and creating their own bandages and cotton swabs.  They put their learning into practice by doing – working with “real patients” with increasing responsibility from early in their program. Even severe weather might put the student nurses to work – if a blizzard kept some hospital staff from coming into work, Nancy and her classmates were called out of their nearby dorms to help.

After graduating in 1948, Nancy worked in the delivery room at Lancaster General Hospital. She enjoyed this part of her career, and the excitement it could bring – she once delivered a baby on her own in the elevator on the way to the delivery room. After she got married, Nancy worked for a family physician, Dr. Russell Stoner in Marietta, PA. She left the nursing profession for 20 years while raising the family’s six children.  In 1975, Nancy returned to nursing at Lancaster General Hospital, working in several departments before settling in day surgery, where she remained until her retirement in 1993.

Inspired by her example, Nancy’s daughter Colleen (Jones) Hilliard also enrolled in Lancaster General Hospital School of Nursing. She fondly recalls seeking out her mother in the hospital around lunchtime to borrow money for the employee cafeteria or taking advantage of affordable meals from the former K&G Market or Mama Mia’s, a long-time student favorite. When Colleen graduated in 1984, the hospital had very few nursing vacancies (atypical from the recent past when most or all graduates could be hired there), but she’s proud to have been one of those who earned a position that year. Colleen started her career in oncology, and later worked in the Intermediate Care Unit (IMCU at the time, now known as IICU). She eventually found her niche working in perioperative services, serving in this realm first at Lancaster General Hospital and since 1999, at the Suburban Pavilion. She also had an especially rewarding nursing experience on a mission trip to Haiti, coordinated by a physician in her church congregation and Haiti Outreach Ministries.

With many decades of service to Lancaster General Health between them, Nancy and Colleen feel a deep connection to the hospital and the former School of Nursing (now PA College). They agree that while nursing may not be easy, it offers so many rewarding opportunities and career paths. Various family members have joined them in the nursing field and our alumni ranks – including Nancy’s daughter-in-law, Melissa Ziogas Jones ’86, Nancy’s sister Carol Wittle Drager ’60 and Carol’s daughter Wendy Drager Mellberg ’87. Wendy’s daughter, Abigail Mellberg is a current PA College student.


Seeking People of PA College

Do you know an exceptional current student or alumnus whose experiences and accomplishments would help tell the PA College story? Or someone who has overcome an obstacle or reached a challenging milestone during their PA College experience? Please email your suggested names (and identify them in one of these categories) to Karen Jenkins. Self-nominations are also welcome!

PA College News

We’re proud of the ambitions and accomplishments of our students and alumni – learn some of their stories in our monthly feature:

Student Spotlight

Jesse Fillgrove ’19 ’14, BSN, RN-BC
Nurse Manager, Transitional/Discharge Unit, Penn Medicine Lancaster General Hospital and Student, Master of Science in Nursing – Administration program

“My entire college career has been at PA College,” shares Jesse Fillgrove, a current graduate student and soon to be three-time alumnus.  After earning his Associate of Science in Nursing degree in 2014, Jesse worked for two years before returning to PA College to earn his Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree in 2019.  Now in his final semester of our Master of Science in Nursing – Administration program, Jesse is excited to earn his third PA College degree next month. He shares: “The highlight of my graduate studies was the 12-week applied practice experience. I spent one day a week shadowing the Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) for Penn Medicine Lancaster General Hospital, Dr. Larry Strassner. It was a genuinely life changing experience. It opened my eyes to the breadth of oversight a CNO has in a health care organization. Every time I thought understood all the CNO oversees, there was something new.”

Last month, Jesse was promoted to Nurse Manager for the Transitional/Discharge Unit (TDU) at Lancaster General Hospital – the same unit where he started as a bedside nurse.  Jesse notes: “The TDU is a newer concept in our institution. We help patients who, for whatever reason, have nowhere to go after they leave the hospital. We transform lives through nursing care. Sometimes that means behavioral management, but other times it means collaborating with interprofessional teams, or simply documenting in a way that promotes the patient’s well-being.” Previously, Jesse was the Assistant Nurse Manager on the Neuroscience/Trauma Med/Surg unit at the hospital.

Jesse points to two health care heroes in his life. The first, Michael Killinger, Regional Director for Operations, was Jesse’s operational director when he started in management at Lancaster General Hospital. Jesse adds: “Mike has a way of connecting with people and valuing individuals like no one else. He is the greatest authentic leader I know. I model the way I care, connect and lead after Mike.”  Jesse’s second health care hero is his wife, Karyn, an Emergency Department Nurse at Lancaster General Hospital. Jesse and Karen live in Lancaster City with their son, Samuel and are looking forward to the arrival of their second child in January.

 

Alumni Spotlight

LaTia Forner ’22
Veteran, United States Air Force and Vascular Sonographer, UPMC Hanover

Alumna and veteran LaTia Forner served in the United States Air Force on active duty from 2002 to 2010. Working in aircraft maintenance and repair of fuel systems, she serviced the pumps and valves that manage and deliver aviation fuel to the propulsion system and auxiliary power unit of an aircraft. Later, with the support of educational benefits through the Post-9/11 GI Bill and Vocational Rehabilitation benefits, LaTia was able to enroll in our Vascular Sonography program. “My educational goals wouldn’t have been possible without my time in the service,” she shares. “And I found that aircraft fuel system maintenance is very similar to the study of hemodynamics and hemorheology within the human body.”

LaTia’s favorite PA College clinical experience was at the Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Vascular Sonography laboratory under the leadership of Michael Matchett. She explains: “As a teaching hospital with a high volume of vascular disease patients, I was able to develop my skills with a diverse patient population.” She is also grateful to her clinical preceptor, Senior Vascular Sonography Karen Lahr at Penn State Health Lancaster Medical Center who LaTia explains “was a critical part in developing and building upon my skills from studies in open lab.”  She values the support of PA College Instructor, Kathryn Zale who provided counseling and strategies to overcome challenges LaTia faced due to dyslexia and who shared her belief that “we shouldn’t limit ourselves to other people’s expectations of us.”

As a recent graduate, LaTia is already making an impact in the health care profession. She works in the Vascular Laboratory at UPMC Hanover and participates in surgical procedures in the hospital’s catheterization laboratory twice a week. She notes: “Some surgical procedures are ultrasound guided as in a venous ablation procedure that utilizes radiofrequency energy to cauterize and close bad veins in the legs.”  LaTia recognizes that minority communities do not always receive the same quality of care that Caucasian patients do and can be unsatisfied with their interactions with health care providers. She hopes to make a positive impact through her work within her minority community.  It is her goal to one day manage a Sonography department for patients from an undeserved community (veterans or African Americans).

Photo: at left – LaTia with Tuskegee Airman, Lieutenant Colonel Lee Archer; and at right – LaTia at Commencement, May 2022


Seeking People of PA College

Do you know an exceptional current student or alumnus whose experiences and accomplishments would help tell the PA College story? Or someone who has overcome an obstacle or reached a challenging milestone during their PA College experience? Please email your suggested names (and identify them in one of these categories) to Karen Jenkins. Self-nominations are also welcome!

PA College News

We’re proud of the ambitions and accomplishments of our students and alumni – learn some of their stories in our monthly feature:

Student Spotlight

Sherry Lorenz
Medical Laboratory Science program

Sherry Lorenz

Sherry Lorenz has always wanted to be a scientist and remembers being interested in the topic before even beginning Kindergarten.  She has pursued this passion throughout her adult life – from her previous college education to her career to date.  After studying to be an environmental technician at Harrsiburg Area Community College and earning a degree in Biology from Millersville University, Sherry has worked as a chemist, in quality control, as a documentation specialist and in pharmaceutical deviations.

Realizing that she felt most successful when she could help others in their time of need, Sherry decided to add to her educational credentials, and shift her career focus. She is enrolled in our Medical Laboratory Science program, on track to graduate in the summer of 2023.  She appreciates her program’s small class size, which affords her ample opportunity to ask questions and receive individual attention from her instructors. Sherry also takes advantage of PA College’s large campus, and its many spaces for quiet study and collaboration with other students.

With all the hands-on lab experiences she has available to her, Sherry feels confident she’ll excel in a hospital lab one day, helping patients get the results they need. She adds: “I hope to eventually help manage a medical laboratory in the area. I already have management experience in several positions I held at other facilities. I enjoyed helping make tough quality determinations at my other jobs, and helping other colleges get their jobs completed successfully.  I love to help hold meetings and brainstorm new ideas for the establishment of new protocols.”

 Sherry has three children – two sons ages 16 and 2 years old, and a daughter who is 22 years old.  “I am an adventurous person, and love trying new things, going new places – especially when I can do them with my children,” Sherry shares. She has been zip lining and kayaking, enjoys painting, visiting museums and art galleries and loves salsa dancing.  Sherry’s love of science also extends to her hobbies – which include geology and entomology.

Alumni Spotlight

Doretta Hess ’22
Director of Professional Coding, Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health

Doretta Hess

Doretta Hess has found inspiration on her educational journey from her grandfather. His thirst for learning led him to attend 8th grade three times, because his family felt that a high school education was inappropriate. After she completed high school, Doretta earned an associate degree in Specialized Business from Consolidated School of Business. Even 25 years later, Doretta still recalls how rewarding it was to see her name on her diploma at graduation, becoming the first person in her immediate family to obtain a degree.

First hired by The Heart Group as a cashier/biller, Doretta later learned medical coding and moved into a supervisor role.  To leverage the additional advancement opportunities that became available when The Heart Group joined Lancaster General Health, she enrolled in our Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration (BSHA) degree program. In 2020, Doretta was promoted to her current position of Director of Professional Coding for LG Health.  She graduated from PA College in May 2022, and finished her Capstone work, magna cum laude, in August 2022.

Doretta shares: “The BSHA program at PA College helped me to gain a more in-depth understanding of the unique complexities of health care management.  The coursework allowed me to examine my leadership style and to think more critically about my approach with staff as well as the way I interact with those in clinical departments.  My degree has allowed me to see the benefit of the work I do and its impact on health care delivery and to think more critically about new ways to do things.”

A passion for helping people discover better ways of doing things informs Doretta’s work in medical coding. She explains: “Medical coding can be complicated and frustrating and I find it rewarding when we can help provide clarity or tools that save time for clinical staff.  The most rewarding part of my career has been the relationships that I have developed. The pace of health care is fast and can be intense. I try to make my interactions meaningful.” Recent accomplishments for Doretta’s team include participating in onboarding a new, large-volume, practice to the medical group, as well as working through all the obstacles that the pandemic brought, including rolling out telemedicine.  Doretta also shares her professional expertise by serving on the Medical Billing and Coding advisory board for York Technical Institute.

When asked what advice she would give our students, Doretta offers: “Don’t be afraid to try new things.  None of us have all the answers.  Don’t be afraid to begin in a role that you feel may be below your skill level.  Your ability to work well with others, to be transparent, to learn from your mistakes and to exhibit professionalism will be invaluable to the success of your career.  Many students at PA College are working, raising children and going to school which means they are stretched thin.  Give yourself grace but also be encouraged by those around you who have the same struggles.”

During her free time, Doretta enjoys time with family and friends, including her sixteen-year-old son, Bill who was her biggest supporter during the six years she spent pursuing her bachelor’s degree. Favorite activities include hiking, camping and traveling – especially to the beach.


Seeking People of PA College

Do you know an exceptional current student or alumnus whose experiences and accomplishments would help tell the PA College story? Or someone who has overcome an obstacle or reached a challenging milestone during their PA College experience? Please email your suggested names (and identify them in one of these categories) to Karen Jenkins. Self-nominations are also welcome!

PA College News