People of PA College: July 2017 Edition

by PA College July 24, 2017

People of PA College: July 2017 Edition

Each month, we share the stories of the People of PA College who make the college a great place to learn, work and grow. Here are July’s stories!

Student Spotlight

Alice Wheeler ’18
Associate of Science in Nursing

Alice Wheeler may be new to PA College, having recently completed her first semester in the ASN program, but she’s certainly not a heath care novice. After previously working as a doula at a small birth center in western Virginia, Alice joined the Women’s Health Department at SouthEast Lancaster Health Services in 2015. She is both a birth doula and program manager for the organization’s Title X family planning services. Over two years, Alice has attended 45 births with women from more than 15 countries, including Jamaica, Iraq, Burma, Nepal, Chad, Cameroon, Mexico and Haiti. Alice is often paired with Arabic-speaking patients, as she is fluent in the language from her childhood living in the Middle East as part of her family’s missionary work. Alice calls her job “transformative” and shares: “I have also walked with mothers through long inductions, cesarean sections, giving their newborn up for adoption, struggling with addiction, and more than one fetal demise. Last year I was granted permission by the Lancaster County Prison to follow their incarcerated mothers to Women and Babies Hospital and provide them with labor support.”

Alice was attracted to PA College for our strong reputation and roots in the community. Her rewarding experience as a doula inspired her to enroll in the ASN program so that she can expand her professional role in the birth room. She is passionate about women’s health and excited about future opportunities to draw on her range of experience to date; from a small home birth practice, to a large hospital maternity unit and a federally-funded health center.

In her free time, Alice loves perusing thrift stores, experimenting at perfecting her pie baking skills, binge watching Parks and Recreation, quoting Kristen Wiig from Saturday Night Live sketches, dancing at Zumba classes, and reading Saul Williams’ poetry. She also enjoys processing her years as a Mennonite missionary kid growing up in the Middle East through writing, storytelling, and song.

Alumni Spotlight

Abigail Thrush ’14, ’16
Bachelor of Science in Nursing

Abigail Thrush is a two-time graduate of PA College, completing the ASN program in 2014 and earning her BSN in 2016. She is now working as a Pediatric Nurse at Chambersburg Hospital, with cross-training as a Medical-Surgical Nurse. She is also currently pursuing certification to administer chemotherapy to patients in the hospital. While Abigail enjoyed spending time in the Lancaster area when she first began her studies at PA College, she is also appreciative of the opportunity to complete her BSN degree online and live and work back home in Chambersburg. Abigail’s favorite part of her experience at PA College was her Service Learning Project during the BSN program because she was able to give back to her community and educate others about health. She shares: “I am still volunteering with the organization I chose for my project and love every minute of it!”

Abigail offers this advice for current PA College students: “Never give up! There will be times that you will fail, but do not get discouraged. Find a group of friends to study with, to express your feelings to, and, yes, to even have fun with! The stress level in college is high, but the number of times I have had patients say ‘Thank you for being a great nurse’ outweighs the number of times that I have wanted to give up. Another tip that I would share is to always be positive! Even during a busy shift, take a deep breath and smile. Being a patient in the hospital can be an unpleasant experience; strive to be that light of positivity that your patient will remember!”

In her spare time, Abigail enjoys spending time with her family, taking her nephews on adventures, playing the piano and singing, and spending time outdoors. She volunteers at her church teaching the children classes and also at a local organization teaching clients about health and wellness. In the future, Abigail plans to continue her education to receive a MSN degree in Nursing Education and hopes to volunteer for many medical mission trips. She looks forward to all of the experiences that are yet to come.

Staff Spotlight

Dee (Dolores) Minchhoff, DNP, CRNP
Associate Professor, Division of Nursing
Program Chair, Three-Year BSN Program

Dee Minchhoff has been a nurse for 35 years. The majority of her clinical experience was in pediatrics, including pediatric ICU, but she also worked in medical-surgical and mother-baby (post-partum) nursing areas. Her educational path has been driven by both her clinical practice and work as an educator. Dee earned an MSN to further her teaching career, as well as a post-masters certificate as a family nurse practitioner which facilitated her return to direct patient care. Inspired by her enjoyment of being a student herself, in 2015 she continued her education by earning her Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. Today, Dee is Chair of PA College’s 3-year BSN Program and an Associate Professor in the Division of Nursing. Rolling out this new nursing program has been rewarding for Dee, as she has learned more about undergraduate nursing education and enjoyed meaningful collaboration with her dedicated colleagues.

Dee is also involved professionally with the Pennsylvania State Nurses Association, District 16 and at the state level, the Psi Pi Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau, as well as the Lancaster Nurse Practitioners. She is on the Board of the Lancaster Osteopathic Foundation and Chair of their Nursing Scholarship Committee. Dee also served in the Air Force on active duty and in the Army Reserves. Looking back over her career to date, she shares: “I am proud of my commitment to the students I work with and to the clients that I care for in my Nurse Practitioner practice.” In May, Dee was the recipient of the Nurses as Mentors award at the Nightingale Awards celebration held at Lancaster General Hospital.

Dee and her husband live in a log home in southern Lancaster County and have been married for 38 years. They have three children and four grandchildren, who bring great fun to their lives. The family shows their Baltimore Orioles team spirit in the names of their 3 Labrador Retrievers: Ripken, Brooks and Palmer. Dee has refereed high school girls and youth lacrosse for about sixteen years. She enjoys doing yard work, and while claiming no craft skills, does make a mean grilled cheese sandwich! Dee also adds: “I am regular blood donor, and you all should be too!”