People of PA College: January 2020 Edition

by Karen Jenkins January 6, 2020

People of PA College: January 2020 Edition

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

Student Spotlight

Kaitlyn McDermott ‘21

Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program

Bucks County resident Kaitlyn McDermott ’21 earned her BSN degree from Villanova University and began her career in the area of critical care.  A big believer in equal healthcare for everyone, no matter their race, gender, sexual orientation, culture or socioeconomic status, she aspires to be a culturally competent health care provider.  Kaitlyn has sought to broaden her experience and learning through opportunities abroad. Last year, she worked in Moshi, Tanzania where she triaged patients (from infants to the elderly) at a clinic to learn Swahili, and later worked in the emergency room at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center, the largest hospital in the area.

In November, Kaitlyn volunteered with other nurses at the Fundacion ninos del aro iris, in Urubamba, Peru, addressing that community’s key health issues of diabetes, hypertension and contagious viral warts.  She loved how inclusive and supportive the school was of the local Quechua community – Quechua, Spanish and English were all taught there, and Quechua cultural practices were integrated into the curriculum. Kaitlyn hopes to next volunteer somewhere in Central America and adds: “It can be intimidating to live and work in other countries and I have had only positive experiences as these host countries warmly welcomed me and did not make me feel like an outsider. It’s a lesson I think we could apply more to others in this country.”

Ready to further her education, Kaitlyn enrolled in the new acute care nurse practitioner program at PA College. Drawn to our smaller class size and personalized attention, Kaitlyn appreciates that her program director is working closely with her to find clinicals in her areas of interest. She hopes to eventually work in infectious disease or palliative care. She also believes strongly in harm reduction, volunteering some of her spare time in Philadelphia. Kaitlyn also plays music and loves yoga, hiking, biking and running around with her three dogs.


Alumni Spotlight

PJ Winchell ’91, CRNP

Nurse Practitioner, Observation Unit, Lancaster General Hospital

PJ Winchell began her career as a bedside nurse in the ICU at Lancaster General Hospital after earning her nursing diploma from PA College (then the LGH School of Nursing). Nearly 12 years later, she took a management position in an ICU at a smaller facility. After earning her BSN degree online, she was offered the role of manager of a ten-bed open heart ICU and thirty-bed coronary intervention unit in Florida.  For this beach-lover, the decision to accept was easy! A few years later, when her daughter was expecting PJ’s first grandchild, she returned to Lancaster. She accepted a travel position as a critical care instructor for a new open heart unit near Philadelphia, and in the years to follow, served as a nurse clinician for CT Surgery, Medical Cardiology, and Interventional Cardiology and Vascular Medicine.

As the only income-earner in her household, when PJ decided to pursue her Master’s degree, she again completed her studies online, while continuing to work.  She is proud of earning her MSN after age 50, along with her Nurse Practitioner certification. Today, PJ is a NP in the Observation Unit at Lancaster General Hospital, a role she calls both a surprise and a blessing. While she had longed to return to a cardiac position with LGH, “as time passed, I began to see that I was meant to be here.  I learn something new every day.  I work with a great team, expanding my internal medicine knowledge, while having opportunities to shine a bit for the cardiac patients,” PJ explains.

Looking back on her start at PA College, PJ shares: “Having a degree from PA College served as a strong foundation for my ongoing education, but it also taught me how to do nursing the way I think it was meant to be. Having completed such a difficult nursing education ‘way back then,’ with very high expectations, allows me to now help raise up the new nurses of today. Additionally, it gave me tools from which I could build strength of character, enhance teamwork skills and, most importantly, increase my sense of value for patients as individuals with real needs that reach beyond the obvious medical diagnosis.”

Currently living in Millersville with her significant other Jay, PJ has three children, 5 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren.  A former competitive ballroom dancer, she currently enjoys dancing the West Coast Swing.



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!