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