AURORA, Colo. – May 2, 2013 – American Sentinel University, a leading online university accredited by the Accrediting Commission of the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC) and a recognized member of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, today announced the appointment of five new nursing faculty members.
Helen Heiskell, DNP, RN, CNE has joined the university as chair of nursing, graduate programs. In her new role, she will be responsible for teaching, developing curriculum and assisting the associate dean of nursing, graduate programs in the management of the academic program.
Heiskell brings a wealth of experience educating nursing students to her new position. Previously, she was the chair, online undergraduate nursing programs at South University Online.
She has been a member of associations and groups vital to the health care education industry, including The National League for Nursing, Region 7 Communication Committee Chair of Sigma Theta Tau, charter member of Phi Kappa Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau and associate member of ELearning Guide.
Heiskell earned her doctorate of nursing practice with a concentration in informatics from the Medical College of Georgia. Heiskell holds a bachelor of science in nursing degree from Georgia Regents University, a master of science in nursing degree with a concentration in cardiovascular nursing from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Diana Kostrzewski, Ph.D., RN will serve as the university’s executive director, nursing practicums. In this new role in nursing academics, Dr. Kostrzewski will be responsible for providing leadership and oversight in the planning, organizing and managing of all activities related to the smooth completion of practicum hours by American Sentinel’s nursing students.
She previously served as the dean of faculty for Chamberlain College of Nursing and the senior director of licensing and accreditation for Rasmussen College’s School of Nursing.
In a nursing career spanning more than three decades, Kostrzewski has served as a staff nurse, supervisor, nurse administrator and nurse educator. While serving in the different roles over time, she held positions in acute care, long term care, home care, hospice, public health and nursing education. Her administrative roles include director of nursing for long term care facilities, home care/hospice agencies and public health agencies. She also planned, launched and led two home care agencies.
Kostrzewski has been teaching in or leading nursing programs in higher education for more than a decade in graduate, baccalaureate, associate degree and vocational programs. She has extensive experience in online/distance delivery of nursing programs.
Kostrzewski holds a diploma from Agassiz Valley School of Practical Nursing, an associate degree in nursing from Northland Community College, a bachelor of science degree in nursing from Moorhead State University, a master of science degree in rural health nursing with a focus in nursing administration from the University of North Dakota and a Ph.D. in postsecondary and adult education from Capella University. Her dissertation was related to program evaluation and distance delivery of nursing programs.
She holds memberships with the National League for Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau and National Association for Professional Women.
Melissa Penner, MSN, MATL, RN, CNE will serve as the university’s assistant professor, undergraduate nursing programs. In her new role, Penner will be responsible for developing online nursing courses that meet the quality standards set forth by the Commission for the Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and American Sentinel University. Penner will also work with the associate dean of nursing to maintain curriculum integrity, promote optimum learning opportunities for students and foster a rich online environment for the students.
Penner brings experience in the nursing field and innovation with higher education to her new position and most recently was a simulation and clinical sites manager at Kaplan School of Nursing in Chicago, Ill.
Penner holds a diploma and an associate degree in nursing from Marshalltown Community College, a bachelor of science in nursing from Mercy College of Health Sciences, a master of art in teaching and learning with an emphasis on teaching with technology and a master of science in nursing education from Kaplan University.
She has been a member of associations and groups vital to the health care education industry, including Sigma Theta International, National League for Nursing, The Society for Simulation Healthcare (SSH) and The International Nursing Association for Clinical Simulation Learning.
Susan J. Thomas, MSN, RN has joined the university as an assistant professor of nursing. She will be responsible for developing online nursing courses that meet the quality standards set forth by the Commission for the Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and American Sentinel University. Thomas will also work with the dean of nursing to maintain curriculum integrity, promote learning opportunities for students and foster a rich online environment for the students.
Thomas has a strong foundation of nursing knowledge in both clinical and educational settings. She most recently served as an assistant professor of nursing at Nicholls State University and has served as adjunct online faculty for RN-BSN, BSN and MSN programs.
Thomas holds a bachelor’s degree from Louisiana State University as well as an associate degree in nursing and bachelor of science in nursing from Southeast Missouri State University. She earned her master of science in nursing from Loyola University.
Thomas is currently working on her doctorate of nursing practice: executive nursing administration/ nurse educator degree at the University of South Alabama in Mobile, Ala.
A member of the National League for Nursing, her research interests include mentoring, peer-teaching learning, simulation within the online learning environment, and connectedness and the nurse-patient relationship.
Karen Whitham, EdD(c), RN, CNE has been appointed as the university’s chair of nursing, undergraduate programs. She will be responsible for teaching, developing curriculum and assisting the associate dean of nursing, undergraduate programs in the management of the academic program. She will also mentor new faculty in the RN to BSN program.
Previously, Whitham taught on-ground and online for practical, associate and bachelor’s-level nursing programs at Kaplan University and Rasmussen College. During her career, Ms. Whitham held positions as director of pre-licensure initiatives, clinical coordinator and nursing residency program coordinator.
Whitham is a Certified Nurse Educator (CNE) and a member of numerous nursing associations, including Sigma Theta Tau International and National League for Nursing. She was an item writer for the National Council of State Boards of Nursing and a scenario contributor for the publication Simulation Learning System- Licensed Practical/Licensed Vocational Nursing.
She holds an associate of science in nursing from Mercy College of Health Sciences, a bachelor of science in nursing from University of Iowa, a master of science in nursing from Regis University and a master of science in higher education from Kaplan University. Currently Whitham is an Ed.D. candidate in health professions education at the College of Saint Mary.
“We are honored to welcome five remarkably talented nurse educators to the American Sentinel nursing faculty,” says Judy Burckhardt, Ph.D., MAEd, MSN, RN, dean, nursing at American Sentinel University. “Their combined talents, skills, experiences and educational leadership will enhance our nursing discipline to develop nursing degree programs that meet the needs of our students and the health care industry.”
About American Sentinel University
American Sentinel University delivers the competitive advantages of accredited online nursing degree programs in nursing, informatics, MBA Health Care, DNP Executive Leadership and DNP Educational Leadership. Its affordable, flexible bachelor’s and master’s nursing degree programs are accredited by the Commission for the Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The university is accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC). The Accrediting Commission of DETC is listed by the U.S. Department of Education as a nationally recognized accrediting agency and is a recognized member of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.