Nursing Alumni Chart Path to Excellence with Advanced Degrees
Throughout the region, nurses who are York College of Pennsylvania graduates are known for their outstanding work ethic and compassionate attention to detail. Many return to York College to earn advanced degrees–some, more than one.
Abi Strouse ’97 knew right out of high school that she wanted to be a nurse. York College of Pennsylvania was close to home, and she had heard good things about its Nursing program. Little did she know then that she would return to the College to earn her Master of Science in Nursing in 2008 and her Doctor of Nursing Practice in 2015.
Strouse serves as Director of Clinical Services at York Hospital, where she has worked for 26 years. The format of the College’s graduate programs were set up to allow her to continue working full-time while completing those degrees.
“I love the York College community,” she says. “The Nursing professors cared about your success, even through my MS and DNP programs. The programs were flexible, and I really enjoyed every class I took.”
Demanding profession, unlimited opportunity
Nursing is a profession that demands not only dedication and compassion but a commitment to continuous learning. Beyond the foundational knowledge gained in undergraduate programs, advanced degrees such as York College’s Master of Science in Nursing and Doctor of Nursing Practice (Nurse Anesthesia) provide nurses with specialized expertise, critical-thinking skills, and advanced clinical competencies.
These advanced degrees open doors to diverse career roles, including leadership in various healthcare settings, advanced clinical practice, research, and education. Nurses with higher degrees contribute significantly to healthcare innovation, policy development, and the implementation of evidence-based practices. In the end, they enhance the overall quality of patient care.
“In nursing there are so many opportunities, and education only opens more of those doors for you,” Strouse says.
Advanced education in nursing also equips professionals with the tools to navigate the complex and ever-evolving healthcare landscape. Nurses with higher degrees play a pivotal role in driving positive change, improving patient outcomes, and contributing to the overall advancement of the nursing profession.
After earning her bachelor’s degree, Strouse recognized the opportunities for further education and decided to continue her studies at York College. Her Master of Science in Nursing and Doctor of Nursing Practice followed, opening doors to a career marked by leadership and continuous learning.
The mentors Strouse encountered throughout her three programs of study played a crucial role in her growth as a nurse and leader. Clinical experiences, especially during her advanced degree programs, allowed her to work in a number of hospitals, gaining insights into collaborative systems and fostering confidence in her professional growth.
“I now get to support the nurses that I have worked alongside for the past 26 years, and I just love being able to support them in any way that I can,” she says. “Being here 26 years, I have seen staff grow and develop, and I love to see and support that.”
From uncertain to confident and compassionate
Patty Myers ’81 was part of the first class of York College Nursing graduates. Her decision to attend York College was influenced by a combination of circumstances. Having moved from Arizona to Pennsylvania during her senior year of high school for her father’s military service, Myers realized she no longer could attend the University of Arizona. The offer of a generous scholarship to York College sealed the deal.
Myers recalls the blend of excitement and uncertainty that came with being part of the inaugural Nursing class. The Class of 1981 laid the foundation for the College’s program. The students achieved an impressive first-time pass rate, setting the stage for the program’s success.
While Myers did not pursue additional degrees, as the Nursing Lab Coordinator at York College, where she has worked since 2005, she has seen numerous students return to earn additional degrees and certifications.
“I’ve seen a whole lot of students graduate,” she says. “Watching them go from very uncertain to confident and compassionate caregivers is wonderful.”
Myers had a more personal experience with York College Nursing graduates a few years ago when a health scare landed her in a local intensive care unit. She learned that her emergency room nurse, nurse practitioner, and ICU nurse were all graduates or adjunct faculty of York College.
“So many of my caregivers and the people that helped to make sure that I didn’t have any functional deficits were either our graduates or those that helped to educate our students, and I received excellent care,” she says.
Knowing she had helped those students earn their degrees was an incredible feeling.
A legacy of leadership
Tragically, the nursing community lost an inspirational figure with the death of Michelle Elizabeth DeFabio in October 2023. DeFabio earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Master of Science as a Clinical Nurse Specialist, and Doctor of Nursing Practice from York College.
At the time of her death, she was Director of Nursing for Penn Medicine, Nursing Professional Development and Clinical Excellence. DeFabio’s commitment to education extended beyond that role, as she served as an adjunct Nursing faculty member at York College and Harrisburg Area Community College.
DeFabio was involved in numerous nursing organizations, including the American Association of Critical Care Nurses, Sigma Theta Tau International, and the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization. Holding appointments to various committees and serving as president of the Susquehanna Valley Affiliate National Association Clinical Nurse Specialists, DeFabio made substantial contributions to nursing leadership.
Strouse and DeFabio used York College’s continuing Nursing education opportunities not only to evolve in their careers but to make a lasting impact on their communities. Whether as a director of clinical services or a leader in nursing development and clinical excellence, they have made substantial contributions to healthcare. As the York College Nursing community grows, the legacy of Myers, Strouse, DeFabio, and numerous others continues to inspire future nursing professionals.
“Continuing your education will never not help you personally and professionally,” Strouse says. “Advancing my education has transformed how I think, how I attack problems, and how I interact with people. That can help in every aspect of your life, so I would encourage anyone to continue their education when possible.”