York College of PA to Offer Thornton Accelerated Nursing Program beginning in July 2023
The Stabler Department of Nursing at York College, part of the Dr. Donald E. and Louis J. Myers School of Nursing and Health Professions, will offer an Accelerated Baccalaureate Nursing Program beginning in 2023, thanks to support from a generous donor.
The Department has been considering adding an accelerated second degree program for the past few years, according to Stacy Lutter, Department Chair. In March 2021, a committee reviewed “research studies and competitor programs, got buy-in from faculty, and came up with a program that everyone was comfortable with,” she said.
At that time, the plans unfortunately had to remain on hold until significant financial support could be found to get it off the ground. The opportunity to both fill a gap in the College’s Nursing curriculum and also address a critical shortage of nurses in the community made the program particularly attractive to Dianne “Danny” Thornton, a former resident of York and supporter of the College.
She and a gift officer from the College “started talking about an accelerated Nursing program, and I jumped on it because it is exactly the type of program I wanted to support.” Not only did Thornton agree to provide funding for all start-up costs, she also committed to five years of sustaining support.
Thornton was raised in a family of health providers. It was natural that she choose the same path. “I grew up in medicine,” she said. “My father, his two brothers, and my grandfather all were physicians in our city. My mother and her sister were both registered nurses.”
After earning her BS in Nursing from the University of Vermont in 1961, she spent her career working in York, where she married her husband, George, shortly after graduation. She was employed by York Hospital, self-employed within the Hospital, and more recently worked in a private physicians’ practice. She was the second woman elected to the York Hospital Board of Directors.
Now a resident of Naples, Florida, Thornton has remained connected to the York community since her departure eight years ago following the death of her husband. In addition to her involvement with York Hospital, she has also held a longtime interest in York College, where she served on the Women’s Auxiliary Board. “George and I always thought that York was the kind of town that needed and would support a York College.”
Directed by Associate Professor of Nursing Kelli Masters, the Thornton Accelerated Nursing Program will be a 17-month program for those who already have a bachelor’s degree and have completed prerequisite coursework.
"I'm very excited to be involved with the development of our Accelerated Nursing program,” Masters said. “We now have the opportunity to educate a unique student population for professional nursing practice. By developing highly qualified and competent nurses, we can support our colleagues as they address current challenges in the profession, such as nurse burnout and the nursing shortage."
York College’s accelerated program is directed at students who have already earned a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing discipline and/or completed at least 65 non-nursing college credits. “This program will diversify our student enrollment and will help prepare individuals with backgrounds outside of nursing to enter practice as registered nurses,” said Lutter. “We hope that creating this new pipeline will impact the nursing shortage seen in York County and the surrounding areas.”
Where will York most likely get students for this program? There’s no other college in the immediate area that offers a similar program other than Penn State-Harrisburg. Lutter is also “hopeful that our alumni base will step forward. We have a good reputation with non-Nursing alumni who might be interested in making a career change and filling a need in the community.”