Distinguished nurse, educator leads Abington nursing programs

Brenda Holtzer, the first coordinator of the Penn State Abington registered nurse (RN) to bachelor of science (B.S.) degree in nursing program, has spent more than 30 years studying, teaching, managing and caring for critically and chronically ill patients. She brings a wealth of education and experience to Abington’s new program for registered nurses who previously have earned either an associate’s degree or a diploma in nursing.

“At Abington we have a strong core faculty group to attract RNs to earn their bachelor’s degrees,” Holtzer, an assistant professor of nursing, said. “They are a diverse group in terms of their life and work experiences.”

Holtzer, a Philadelphia resident, said she is looking forward to working and teaching at Abington. “Abington has a student friendly environment. Our culturally diverse community has faculty and staff who are dedicated to meeting the educational and professional development of students.”

She added, “Since my own career began as a diploma school graduate, I can relate to our students. I am passionate about the nursing professional role and mentoring and educating nurses as they develop their own careers.”

Holtzer’s passion for children led her to her first nursing position at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where she met mentors who influenced her career and educational development. She then became a nurse manager, developing the ventilator-dependent nursing unit for graduates of neonatal intensive care units, and then moved on to manage a 40-bed pediatric rehabilitation unit in Baltimore.

Holtzer’s desire for more diverse experiences and education led her to Thomas Jefferson University School of Nursing where she taught pediatric nursing, professional role development and nursing leadership at the undergraduate and graduate levels. In addition to developing and managing online courses for the RN/BSN program and for nursing research, Holtzer also created a professional writing skills course for RN/BSN students.

Along the way, she earned a bachelor’s and a master’s in nursing from the University of Pennsylvania.

After earning her doctorate at the University of Maryland in nursing and health policy, Holtzer returned to her roots at CHOP. As a clinical nurse specialist, she was responsible for coordinating discharge and follow-up care for children with multiple complex medical conditions. She also initiated quality improvement and developed standards of care for select patient populations. At CHOP, she was a facilitator and member of several committees including the Advanced Practice Research Council.

Holtzer was a Fellow at the Summer Nursing Research Institute at Penn and has presented at national professional conferences. She has received numerous awards and honors including funding for research and is a member of the American Nurses Association and Sigma Theta Tau International, an honor society for nurses who demonstrate exceptional achievement.

The Penn State School of Nursing and Abington initiated the RN to B.S. degree in nursing program on the heels of recently proposed legislation requiring all registered nurses to obtain their bachelor’s within 10 years of initial licensure (RN-Plus-10). Many area hospitals also implemented a BSN degree requirement for their nurses.

“We are committed to providing individualized plans of study for our students to be successful,” Holtzer said.

The RN to B.S. degree offers a combination of evening and weekend classes as well as hybrid learning (online plus classroom time). For more information, see http://www.abington.psu.edu//psasite/fs/academics/rn.html