Nursing students at Penn State Mont Alto practice in the lab

With a nursing degree, the world is your oyster

William Myers always questioned the long-term stability of his job with a federal contractor, knowing the business had to re-bid its projects every couple years.

Myers started considering the breadth of positions in the health care industry and how the well-respected reputation of Penn State University could guarantee him a high-quality educational experience.

That's how Myers found himself transitioning from automotive mechanics to nursing.

"There are countless different ways you can apply an R.N. with a bachelor's of science in nursing degree. The world is your oyster in what you want to practice, where you want to practice. You can really use it anywhere,” Myers said.

Carranda Barkdoll, coordinator for nursing programs, explained how students can get hands-on experience with procedures through the high-fidelity simulation offered on campus. Penn State Mont Alto has used an iStan patient simulator for more than seven years and more recently added the Lucina childbirth simulator.

Both simulators allow students to experience a "patient" with lifelike movements and speech. It's a way they can experiment and make mistakes without consequences.

"The students love the technology and what it offers. If the errors are going to happen, that's where we want them to happen," Barkdoll said.

Penn State Mont Alto offers a four-year bachelor's degree in nursing as well as a program in which already licensed registered nurses can return to school to obtain their bachelor's degree. Most faculty members are working at area practices.

"The program is robust," Barkdoll said.

Phillip Grillo came into Penn State Mont Alto having already seen much of the world. He deployed as an infantryman with the U.S. Marine Corps to Iraq, where an improvised explosive device detonated and sent shrapnel into left side, blew out a portion of thigh and caused him to suffer a traumatic injury.

Grillo spent three months in hospitals in Iraq and Germany as well as across the United States.

“I made a good connection with the health care providers, and it opened my eyes to the profession of nursing. I wanted to do for others what they did for me,” he said.

A counselor suggested Grillo consider attending Penn State Mont Alto because of its reputation for serving veterans. He was impressed by the services available to him and opportunities to hike in the woods near the campus for quiet time alone.

Grillo hopes to work in rehabilitation – mirroring those who aided in his own recovery. He praised Penn State Mont Alto’s faculty and staff for investing in his growth.

“The professors are great and thank me for my service,” he said.

Over the last two decades, Penn State Mont Alto has graduated more than 1,000 high-quality nurses who are working and teaching in all aspects of healthcare. Many remain in the area working in acute care hospitals and long-term care facilities including Chambersburg and Waynesboro Hospitals and other local and regional facilities such as Carlisle and Hanover Hospitals, Hershey Medical, Johns Hopkins, Meritus Healthcare, Menno Haven, Quincy Village, and South Mountain Restoration Center.