Nurses donate scholarships for Abington RN-to-BS students

RN to BS scholarship

Students were required to wear uniforms at the Dixon School of Nursing but could dress down to attend chemistry and other courses down the road at Penn State Abington.

Credit: Dixon School of Nursing

ABINGTON, Pa. — The Nurses Alumni Association of the Dixon School of Nursing, a group of veteran health-care providers whose beloved institution is closing, is providing scholarships to Dixon graduates who enroll in the RN to BS (Registerd Nurse to Bachelor of Science) in nursing degree program at Penn State Abington.

The Dixon alumni so far have covered the cost for 91 recent Dixon graduates to take the first course toward their bachelor’s degree at the college. The alumni board will pay the tuition for the final three Dixon graduating classes to enroll at Abington. Dixon will close this fall due to a merger.

“We want to support the students who are graduating from Dixon in 2016 and 2017,” Alice Pero said at the Dixon Alumni Board Scholarship Tea in the college’s historic solarium.

Each scholarship is valued at about $1,500 or the cost of one course, and will be offered up to 200 registered nurses.

“I have one word for why you continue your education: Opportunity.”

—Veteran nurse to current RN to BS in nursing degree students

The connection between the Dixon school at the former Abington Memorial Hospital, now called Abington Hospital-Jefferson Health, and Penn State Abington dates back decades.

“We walked down Woodland Road from the hospital to Penn State Abington in all kinds of weather,” Pero recalled of the half-mile stroll through the residential neighborhood. “It was a remarkable experience.”

Dixon nursing students took some required courses at the college, including chemistry, which took place in the Spring House next to the duck pond.

“We had a new chemistry professor, and one of girls in class started a fire in lab. It was totally overwhelming for the poor man,” Pero laughed.

Abington nursing
Credit: Regina Broscius

Joy Fraunfelter, director of the Office of Continuing Education, which manages the RN to BS program, praised the nursing school graduates.

“The quality of students from the Dixon school has been amazing,” she said.

Nursing textbook author Marilyn Harris graduated from Dixon 60 years ago, and her experience provided a stark contrast to the training nurses receive today.

“On my first day of nursing school, we learned how to clean beds and care for linens, clean bathrooms, and arrange and care for flowers. At night, we moved flowers out of the patient rooms so they wouldn’t use up oxygen,” Harris said, as the audience laughed.

Two other women recalled taking science courses at Penn State Abington in the early 1970s. They were allowed to wear jeans to Penn State Abington, but at the hospital uniforms were required.

“I have one word for why you continue your education: Opportunity,” one of the women told four current RN to BS students who attended the scholarship tea to thank the Dixon women for the gift.

Another Dixon graduate, Bonnie Giordano, said she still feels the bond between Penn State Abington and Dixon.

“I had such a feeling that Penn State Abington was home,” she said. 

The Dixon School of Nursing will graduate its last students in the fall 2017, a result of the merger between Abington Memorial Hospital and Jefferson Health. Dixon graduated more than 4,000 registered nurses since its inception in 1914.

Nursing RN to BS degree at Abington

The Penn State Abington RN to BS degree program prepares nurses for the challenges of working in 21st century health care. 

Credit: Penn State

Penn State Abington, formerly the Ogontz campus, offers baccalaureate degrees in 18 majors at its suburban location just north of Philadelphia. Nearly half of our 4,000 students complete all four years at Abington, with opportunities in undergraduate research, the Schreyer honors program, NCAA Division III athletics, and more. The Lions Gate residence hall will open in August.