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Saint Joseph’s Launches School of Nursing and Allied Health, Names Inaugural Dean

On Jan. 3, 2024, upon the finalization of the University’s merger with Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences in Lancaster, Saint Joseph’s opened its new School of Nursing and Allied Health and named the school’s inaugural dean: Melissa J. Snyder, DEd, FNP, CNE.

SJU Nursing students

Written by: Emmalee Eckstein

Published: January 12, 2024

Total reading time: 5 minutes

Over the next decade, the demand for healthcare professionals is expected to rapidly increase, with an average of 1.8 million job openings per year. Here to answer the call with highly skilled, compassionate practitioners is Saint Joseph’s University’s new School of Nursing and Allied Health, which launched on Jan. 3, 2024, following Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences (PA College) in Lancaster, Pennsylvania merging into the University.

Caring for the Whole Patient

Rooted in Jesuit values, the School of Nursing and Allied Health embodies a holistic approach that prepares students for a life of continuous learning and a deep commitment to the greater good. The curriculum prioritizes collaboration and competence as students learn to navigate a complex healthcare landscape, championing every patient’s right to quality healthcare.

An interactive learning environment encourages self-directed exploration, critical thinking, global awareness and responsible citizenship. A degree from Saint Joseph’s School of Nursing and Allied Health will produce the highly skilled and compassionate healthcare practitioners of tomorrow.

An Ever-Growing Portfolio of Healthcare Programs

Saint Joseph’s alliance with PA College expands professional opportunities for students through prestigious nursing and healthcare programs — including the addition of a BSN in nursing program on Hawk Hill in fall 2024 — while preserving PA College’s tradition of serving South Central Pennsylvania through excellence in healthcare education for more than 120 years. While the institutions merged in January, Saint Joseph’s venture into healthcare education began in 2022, when it acquired University of the Sciences in West Philadelphia.

“These nursing and allied health programs further expand Saint Joseph’s reach into the healthcare industry,” remarks President Cheryl A. McConnell, PhD. “Our new school ensures the next generation of healthcare leaders' education will be grounded in Jesuit values that focus on excellence, compassion and community.”

Our new school ensures the next generation of healthcare leaders will be educated by a curriculum grounded in Jesuit values that focus on compassion and community.

Cheryl A. McConnell, PhD

president of Saint Joseph's University

With the opening of the School of Nursing and Allied Health, Saint Joseph’s is bringing 19 new healthcare programs to SJU, giving students the option to earn nursing degrees through associate (ASN), bachelor’s (BSN) or master’s-level (MSN-NP) degree programs. Along with this, a variety of allied health certificates and associate degrees are being offered, from radiography to cardiac or vascular sonography, nuclear medicine to surgical or cardiovascular technology — and so much more.

Unmatched Clinical Opportunities

Guaranteed clinical placements offer a multitude of opportunities for students to expand their on-the-ground skills. Saint Joseph’s extensive network of healthcare partners spans eight counties and connects students to premier health systems, ensuring diverse and enriching learning experiences. In clinical placements, students will apply classroom knowledge during hands-on rotations at some of the region’s top healthcare organizations — Penn Medicine - Lancaster General Health, Lehigh Valley Health Network, Penn State Health, St. Luke's University Health Network, Tower Health, University of Pennsylvania Health System (Penn Medicine), University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), Lebanon VA Medical Center and WellSpan Health.

Training Facilities Focused on Real-World Simulation

The Center for Excellence in Practice (CEP) at SJU’s Lancaster location employs a unique educational approach where students encounter a wide variety of immersive, interdisciplinary clinical simulations. At the CEP, students learn to start IVs, give injections, measure vital signs and respond to high-risk clinical situations under the safety and guidance of their instructors. These true-to-life scenarios, meticulously designed alongside subject matter experts, are aimed at nurturing essential skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving and collaborative abilities in a practical, authentic setting. Students practice these simulations in the CEP’s expansive 20,000 square foot facility, which includes over 20 human patient simulators, 24 patient rooms and 40 patient beds.

Passionate Leadership

To lead the school, Saint Joseph’s has named Melissa J. Snyder, DEd, FNP, CNE, as dean. Snyder was most recently the associate dean of the nursing division at PA College, and was previously a full-time faculty nurse educator at institutions like Thomas Jefferson University, Bloomsburg University and Penn State University. An interest in higher education administration led her to administrative roles at Penn State College of Nursing, the School of Nursing at Eastern University and her most recent role at PA College.

In addition to extensive experience as a nurse educator and higher education administrator, Snyder boasts 15 years of clinical practice as a staff nurse and a family nurse practitioner, with special focus on pediatric acute and primary care. She earned her BSN at Lycoming College, her MSN at Widener University and her EdD at Penn State University.

Snyder says the new School of Nursing and Allied Health is ideally positioned to provide healthcare education by building upon a legacy of quality while transcending traditional boundaries.

“Healthcare is complex and dynamic. There is a significant need to infuse the workforce with a new generation of healthcare professionals equipped to meet the challenges of this environment and to embrace the multitude of opportunities it presents,” she reflects. “We at Saint Joseph’s are committed to cultivating a dynamic learning environment where aspiring nurses and health professionals evolve into transformative healthcare leaders.”

Through innovative learning strategies, immersive clinical experiences and an unwavering commitment to the holistic well-being of students, Snyder is confident that graduates of the School of Nursing and Allied Health will shape the future of healthcare.

Learn more about Saint Joseph's nursing and allied health programs.