Faculty and Staff
The Misericordia University nursing faculty work to provide students with the best education possible. The majority of the nursing faculty teach on both the undergraduate and graduate level. Many of our faculty maintain an active practice in areas such as Mental Health Nursing, Women's Health, and Gerontology. Our faculty have also written textbooks, served on area community Board of Directors, presented annually at national conferences, and have worked in Guyana and South America to provide health care to the underserved.
Rita Carey, MSN, RN, CNE
MSN: Mansfield University
BSN: West Chester University
ASN: Luzerne County Community College
Diploma in Practical Nursing-WBACTC-School of Practical Nursing
Professor Carey completed her Master of Science in Nursing with a focus of Nursing Education from Mansfield University. She is member of Sigma Theta Tau International, American Nurses Association, Pennsylvania State Nurses Association and National League for Nursing. Her clinical experience has been in cardiac nursing, medical-surgical nursing, public health nursing, long-term care and rehabilitative nursing. Her most recent focus has been in nursing education. She teaches in the undergraduate program and clinical instruction.
Audrey L Cunfer MSN, RN, CHSE
Nursing Lab Manager
BSN: College Misericordia
MSN: Misericordia University
Mrs. Cunfer graduated from College Misericordia and later obtained her Master's Degree from Misericordia University. Her clinical experience includes Medical Surgical and Home Health Nursing. She has been teaching as an adjunct since 2008 and has been involved in simulation at Misericordia since 2009; she is planning on becoming a Certified Healthcare Simulation Educator. She coordinates the simulation program, is the manager for the Nursing Lab and the Clinical Coordinator. She has recently become involved as the Freshman liaison for the nursing department. She is on the NEPA Collaborative Nursing Network Planning Committee and is a member of Sigma Theta Tau International Nursing Honor Society, Pennsylvania State Nurses Association and the International Nursing Association for Clinical Simulation & Learning (INACSL), National Nursing Honor Society, Pennsylvania State Nurses Association and the International Nursing Association for Clinical Simulation & Learning (INACSL).
Jacklyn DelPrete, MSN, CRNP
M.S.N. Misericordia University
B.S.N. Penn State University
Professor DelPrete completed her Master of Science in Nursing degree from Misericordia University as a Family Nurse Practitioner. She is nationally certified by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP). She is a member of AANP, Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing, and Nurse Practitioners of Northeastern Pennsylvania (NPNEPA). As a nurse practitioner, her clinical experience has been in family medicine, as well as long-term care in which she currently practices. Her professional interests include health literacy, improving care of the LGBTQ community, and technology in nursing education. She teaches in both the undergraduate and graduate curriculum.
Kathleen Devine Gelso, MSN, RN, CNE
2018 D.N.P Chamberlain University
1988 M.S.N. Misericordia University
1981 B.S.N. Villanova University
Mrs. Gelso's experience is in Medical Surgical Nursing. Her teaching responsibilities include clinical and classroom instruction in medical-surgical nursing for the traditional undergraduate program. Mrs. Gelso is a member of the Ethics Committee at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center, and the Ethics Institute of Northeast Pennsylvania at Misericordia University. She is a trained POLST Facilitator. She is a member of the Association of Medical-Surgical Nurses (AMSN), the American Nurses Association, the Pennsylvania State Nurses Association, and the National League for Nursing. She is a member of Sigma Theta Tau, Theta Phi Chapter at Misericordia University.
Mrs. Gelso has coordinated the Pre-College Nursing Career Camp for prospective students for the past 5 years.
Community involvement includes membership in Chapter BR, PEO (Philanthropic Educational Organization), and the Social Justice Committee at St. Therese’s Parish, Shavertown, Pa.
Ms. Gelso was the recipient of the Max and Tillie Rosen Excellence in Teaching Award in 2011.
Brenda L. Hage, PhD, DNP, CRNP
Professor of Nursing
Assistant Dean, Nursing
Chief Nursing Administrator
D.N.P. Chatham University
Ph.D. Virginia Commonwealth University
M.S.N Misericordia University
B.S.N University of the State of New York, Albany
2015/2016 Duke/Johnson & Johnson Nursing Leadership Fellow, Duke University
2005 Biomedical Informatics MBL/NLM Course Fellow National Institutes of Health/National Library of Medicine - Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole
2005 Ethics Fellow, Virginia Commonwealth University, Department of Gerontology
Dr. Hage is a tenured professor of nursing, chairperson of the Graduate Nursing Department and Health Care Informatics, where she also serves as Director of Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Programs. Her primary teaching areas include advanced bioethics and public policy; informatics; leadership; and the scholarship of inquiry in the DNP programs.
Dr. Hage is a family nurse practitioner with clinical expertise in gerontology, rehabilitation, and family practice. She serve as the associate medical director at a pro-bono community health clinic The Hope Center, Luzerne, PA. Hage is board certified as a Family NP by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (NP-C), and as a Adult Gerontological Primary Care NP (AGPCNP-BC) and Informatics Nurse (R.N., B.C.) by the American Nurses Credentialing Corporation and Certified Case Manager (C.C.M.) by the Commission for Case Manger Certification.
Honors & Awards
2016, Recipient of the Presidential Point of Light Award, President George H. W. Bush's Points of Light Foundation for care of the under served.
Appointed to the Pennsylvania Council of Aging by Governor Tom Corbett in December 2011 and was reappointed for a second, three year term in 2014. The Pennsylvania Council on Aging acts in an advisor capacity to the Governor and the Secretary of Aging on the planning, coordination and delivery of services to older adults. The council advocates for the needs of the elderly in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
2011 Advanced Practice Nursing Scholarship Award from the Nightingale Foundation of Pennsylvania.
2005 distinguished Nurse Practitioner Achievement Alumni Award at Misericordia University.
2003 American Academy of Nurse Practitioners' State award for Excellence.
Director, Part Time Evening Nursing Program
1999 M.S.N. College Misericordia
1993 B.S. Wilkes University
Mrs. Hawkins experience has included Medical Surgical Nursing, Orthopedics, and School Nursing. She has been employed by Misericordia University since 2000 teaching in a variety of clinical and classroom settings. Her experience includes teaching in the traditional nursing program and the Part-time evening accelerated programs. Mrs. Hawkins is a member of the American Nurses Association and the National League for Nursing.
Darlene Kuchinski-Donnelly, PhD, RNC
Director, RN to BSN Program
Ph.D. Widener University
Post-Masters Certificate, Nurse Practitioner: Misericordia University
MSN: Misericordia University
BSN: Misericordia University
Mrs. Donnelly's clinical practice and teaching experience includes obstetrics, medical/surgical and pediatric nursing. She has taught in both the undergraduate and the graduate nursing programs. Mrs. Donnelly is a certified Family Nurse Practitioner and is certified in Inpatient Obstetrical Nursing. She has been teaching at Misericordia University since 1999 in various courses.
Mrs. Donnelly is a member of the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN), American Nurses Association, Sigma Theta Tau International and National League for Nursing. She also teaches the Neonatal Resuscitation course for healthcare providers.
Laura Lunger, MSN, CRNP
M.S.N Misericordia University
B.S.N. Misericordia University
Professor Lunger graduated from Luzerne County Community College with her Associates Degree in Nursing and obtained both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Nursing from Misericordia University. She is nationally certified by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP). She is a member of the AANP, Nurse Practitioners of Northeastern Pennsylvania (NPNEPA), American Nurses Association (ANA) and Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing. Her clinical experience has been in Family practice and urgent care settings. She continues to practice clinically as a Family Nurse Practitioner in Urgent care settings which is an area of interest to her. She received a Top Patient Experience Clinician Award in November of 2017 from Geisinger Careworks. She has been employed by Misericordia University full-time since Fall of 2017.
D.N.P. Chamberlain University
M.S.N. University of Phoenix
B.S.N. Wilkes University
Professor Maloney has taught a variety of courses in areas of medical-surgical nursing. She also teaches in the clinical area.
Drawing on an extensive background of professional experience in medical surgical and community nursing, she emphasizes the development of interpersonal skills and a sense of empathy in her students. A member of the National League of Nursing and Sigma Theta Tau International, she has also been involved in a variety of volunteer work. She is also a member of the American Nurses Association and Pennsylvania State Nurses Association.
M.S.N. - College Misericordia
B.S.N. - Marywood University
Diploma - Community Medical Center School of Nursing
Vanessa is a family nurse practitioner. Her areas of clinical experience include family health and women's health. She is board certified in Family Practice as Family Nurse Practitioner (APRN-BC) by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Her primary teaching responsibilities include teaching junior level pediatrics along with pediatric clinical and senior level maternal family health and clinical as well. Also include a member of Sigma Theta Tau International, Theta Chapter at Misericordia University.
She is a member of the American Nurses Association, National League of Nursing and Sigma Theta Tau.
e of Nursing and Sigma Theta Tau.
Lisa Shustack, EdD, MSEd, RN
Cathy Speace, PhD candidate, RN, CSN, CNE
Post-Master's Certificate: Nursing Education - Drexel University
M.S.N. - University of Pennsylvania
B.S.N. - University of Pennsylvania
Mrs. Speace has experience in critical care, school nursing, and nursing education. She is an NLN-certified nurse educator (CNE) and a Pennsylvania Department of Education-certified school nurse (CSN). Her teaching responsibilities include didactic and clinical medical-surgical nursing in the traditional undergraduate program. Professionally, she is a member of the Xi and Theta Phi chapters of Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI), the American Nurses Association (ANA), the Pennsylvania State Nurse's Association (PSNA), and the National League for Nursing (NLN). She is serving as the STTI Theta Phi Chapter Vice-President, the PSNA District #3 Secretary, and the Northeast Educational Consortium Treasurer. She is pursuing a PhD at Villanova University where her research interests are moral distress in nursing, organizational ethical climate, and transformational leadership.
Christina Tomkins, MSN, CRNP, PHRN
2015 Certificate of Pediatric Nursing (CPEN)
2008 M.S.N Family Nurse Practitioner - Bloomsburg University
2005 M.S.N. Adult Nurse Practitioner - Bloomsburg University
1996 B.S.N. - Bloomsburg University
1996 PreHospital RN (PHRN) - Emergency Medical Institute
1990 A.S.N. - Luzerne County Community College
Mrs. Tomkins is the advisor for SNAP and coordinates adjunct faculty orientations. She has a diverse background in nursing with areas of expertise in Critical Care Nursing, Emergency Nursing, Trauma Nursing, and PreHospital Nursing. Primary areas of instruction include Pediatrics, Obstetrics, and Medical/Surgical Nursing. Mrs. Tomkins holds a variety of certifications including Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN), Certified Critical-Care Nurse (CCRN), and Pediatric and Adult Trauma certifications. She is licensed in the state of Pennsylvania as a PreHospital RN. She is also board certified as and Adult Nurse Practitioner (ANP-BC) and a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP-BC).
Mrs. Tomkins is a member of Sigma Thets Tau, Emergency Nurses Association, American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, and American College of Nurse Practitioners. She is also an active part of the Student Nurses Association of PA (SNAP) at Misericordia University.
Annette M. Weiss, PhD, RN, CNE
Chair, Undergraduate Nursing Program
Director, Traditional Program
Ph.D. Duquesne University
Post Master's Certificate in Forensic Nursing - Duquesne University
M.S.N. - University of Hartford
B.S.N. - The Pennsylvania State University
Dr. Weiss serves as the Chairperson of Undergraduate Nursing. Her primary teaching responsibilities include nursing research and professional concepts. Her clinical background is in neonatal intensive care and medical-surgical nursing. Her research interests include incarcerated mothers and perceived learning of online students. She is a certified nurse educator (CNE).
Dr. Weiss received the 2008 Laura Martin Endowed Scholarship from Duquesne University, and the 2009 Sigma Theta Tau Research Award from the Theta Phi Chapter. She is a member of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi and Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing. She is a member of the American Nurses Association, Pennsylvania State Nurses Association, National League for Nursing and the International Association of Forensic Nurses.
Her community involvement includes being the grant coordinator for her local volunteer fire department and VISION volunteer through her church. Dr. Weiss serves on campus as a member of the Sexual Assault Response Team. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Penn State Alumni Nursing Program group and is a Penn State Alumni Mentor. She works as a CPR instructor for the American Heart Association and a Divemaster for PADI.
Catherine Zurawski, DNP, CRNP
Interim BSN to DNP Director
D.N.P. Misericordia University
M.S.N. Misericordia University
B.S.N. Misericordia University
Dr. Zurawski has nursing experience in medical surgery, telemetry, oncology, home health and pediatrics. She has held various positions in healthcare over the years- as an aide for developmentally disabled adults, a neuromuscular massage therapist, acute care and home health registered nurse, and is currently a nurse practitioner in a pediatric practice. Dr. Zurawski began her teaching career in a massage therapy program, where she was an instructor of anatomy and physiology, and skeletal anatomy and kinesiology using the Anatomiken system of clay muscle building. She currently teaches Advanced Physiology and Pathophysiology; Advanced Practice Nursing Role and Theory; Healthcare Policy and Ethics; and Pediatrics and Capstone courses in the graduate nursing program. She also serves as a faculty advisor for the Graduate Nursing Student Organization (GNSO).
Areas of interest include preventative and integrative health and pediatrics, for which she has presented nationally.She is a member of Sigma Theta Tau, American Nurses Association (ANA), American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)- Integrative Medicine and Oral Health SIG, Pennsylvania Coalition of Nurse Practitioners (PCNP), and Pennsylvania State Nurses Association (PSNA).
Pamela Dwyer, DNP, CRNP, FNP-C
Chair, Graduate Nursing Program
MSN Program Director
DNP - Wilkes University
M.S.N. - Misericordia University
B.S.N. - Misericordia University
Dr. Welsh graduated from Luzerne County Community College with her Associates Degree in Nursing and obtained both her Bachelors and Master's degree in Nursing from Misericordia University. She received her Doctor in Nursing Practice from Wilkes University. The focus of her capstone was using mobile health technology to improve access to healthcare education among hypertensive patients who utilize free healthcare clinics. She has been accepted to present both a poster presentation focusing on her capstone work and a podium presentation entitled "DNP Think Tank: Collaborative Strategies to Successful Project Completion" at the National DNP Conference: Seattle, Washington in Fall of 2015. She is certified by the American Academy of Nurse practitioners and she is a current member of the Nurse Practitioners of Northeast Pennsylvania. She is also a member of the Sigma Theta Tau International Honors Society. She has been employed by Misericordia as adjunct nursing faculty since 2005 and currently serves as a full-time faculty member since 2012 for the following undergraduate and graduate courses respectively: Principles of Pharmacy, Health Assessment Across the Lifespan, Childbearing and Family Health, and Clinical Management of Family Health, Advanced Pathophysiology, Advanced Practice Role, Chronic and Acute Adult Healthcare, and Graduate Clinical Synthesis.