New Scholarship Fund honors Founding Editor of the Healing Muse


Barbara Kane, NP, and Deirdre Neilen, PhD, teamed up to establish a scholarship fund to honor the legacy of Dr. Bonnie St. Andrews.

Distinguished Teaching Professor of Bioethics and Humanities, Bonnie A. St. Andrews, PhD, left an indelible mark on this medical university. A brilliant scholar, incisive poet and founding editor of The Healing Muse, she helped give voice to the bonds that link the arts with the medical sciences for the betterment of both patient and practitioner.  Bonnie died as a result of a brain tumor in 2003.

Nursing Alumni Association President Barbara Kane approached Deirdre Neilen, PhD, associate professor of Bioethics and Humanities and current Muse editor, about forming a scholarship fund that would honor Bonnie and her influence on nursing students. Deirdre responded: “I’d be very happy to join you! Bonnie admired her nursing students for their intelligence, their curiosity and their empathy. She encouraged them to pursue their education, telling them the world needed to hear their stories and learn from their research.”

Barbara, a nurse practitioner at the Syracuse VA Hospital and 1998 BS/1999 MS alumna, commented: “Bonnie was a creative inspiration to me and many of us, both in the classroom and through her poetry.” Writing about her own practice experiences, Barbara had two of her poems published in The Healing Muse.

Together, Barbara and Deirdre gave $5,000, which was matched by the Foundation for Upstate Medical University, to form a nursing scholarship endowment. The new scholarship, noted Deirdre, “will honor both Bonnie St. Andrews’ legacy and Barb Kane’s commitment to nursing by ensuring that more nurses will have the opportunity to further their education and contribute to their profession.” The fund is named the Bonnie A. St. Andrews and Barbara Maloy Kane Nursing Scholarship Endowment.

Please support this scholarship endowment for nursing students by visiting the giving link on this website, or by calling 315-464-4416.


August 2013 -- The Upstate College of Nursing welcomed new students in a Convocation Ceremony -- a premier event in the college’s orientation activities -- and also launched its new Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program.The incoming class of 142 was welcomed by Dean Joyce P. Griffin-Sobel, PhD, RN, University President David R. Smith, MD, Vice President of Public Sector Banking for Keybank Gerhard Vogel, as well as SACON leaders, Caroline Berrios and Kaitlin Corona, Omicron Alpha Chapter President Donna Parks, BS/MS ’93, and program faculty.

In her address, the dean emphasized the importance and necessity of applying advanced technology and informatics -- including the essential smart phone in every nurse’s pocket – in order to succeed in studies and in evidenced-based practice today. “We don’t work in the health care system of yesterday,” Griffin-Sobel said. The College’s priorities will include more interprofessional education with diversified clinical sites and simulation opportunities. In addition, Griffin-Sobel plans to establish a student lounge area where students can socialize and collaborate: “You owe it to yourself to enjoy your education, while knowing your priority is to obtaina degree to provide better care for your patients.

During the ceremony, each new student received a bookstore gift certificate and Upstate alumni association patch.


Joyce Griffin-Sobel, PhD, RN, named dean of the College of Nursing at Upstate

April 2013 -- Joyce P. Griffin-Sobel, PhD, RN, CNE, ANEF, who has more than 30 years of experience in academic nursing, has been named dean of the College of Nursing at Upstate Medical University.

Griffin-Sobel, who is known for her leadership and innovation in teaching with technology and interprofessional education, is a professor in the Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing at Hunter College, City University of  New York, where she has served as acting dean, assistant dean of curriculum & technology (2008-2011), and director of undergraduate programs (2004-2011).

The appointment, effective April 1, was announced  by Upstate President David R. Smith, MD. Griffin-Sobel succeeds Elvira Szigeti, PhD, who served as dean of Upstate’s College of Nursing since 1998.

“The outstanding growth of our College of Nursing under Elvira Szigeti, I believe has enabled us to attract a visionary leader like Joyce Griffin-Sobel,” Smith said. “We are excited about her plans for the college and the breadth of experience she brings in the areas of teaching, administration and research that will benefit all of us throughout the university.”

Griffin-Sobel already has met with faculty, alumni and students to discuss her plans for the college. “My goals are to develop interprofessional education experiences, broaden the college’s online course offerings, build strong relationships with our stakeholders such as health care and community agencies, corporations and alumni, and to deepen the research mission of the college.”

Upstate’s College of Nursing, enrolls more than 400 students in a variety of programs, offering bachelor’s, master’s, post-master’s certificate. It will begin offering the doctor of nursing practice degree this fall. The college is accredited by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

At Hunter, Griffin-Sobel is principal investigator for New York City Nursing Education Consortium in Technology (NYCNECT) which is a HRSA-funded faculty development grant in teaching with technology.  She is co-principal investigator, with Carol Storey-Johnson, MD, senior associate dean for education at Weill Cornell Medical College, for ITEACH—Integrating Transdisciplinary Education Across Cornell-Hunter.

As acting dean, and assistant dean of curriculum and technology, Griffin-Sobel oversaw curricular activities and academic quality in this school of 800 students, and led the incorporation of technology into curriculum, with special attention to the use of simulation and informatics. During this time, she created a CUNY-wide consortia of faculty development in teaching with technology. While director of undergraduate programs, Griffin-Sobel oversaw curriculum, academic advising and student activities. During her career at Hunter, she was instrumental in the nursing school’s successful application to the National League for Nursing to be named a Center of Excellence in 2010. She also aided in the creation of partnerships for academic progression of students from junior to senior colleges within the CUNY system, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Partners in Nursing Program.

A member of the U.S. Naval Reserve from 1988-1995, Griffin-Sobel served as director of clinical nursing research for the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps, where she developed the first program of clinical nursing research.  She held the rank of lieutenant commander. Her other academic appointments include the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey School of Nursing, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Nursing, University of Hawaii at Manoa School of Nursing and the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing.

Griffin-Sobel’s impact has been felt as an author, editor and contributor to numerous scholarly works, and books including, Gastrointestinal Cancers (Oncology Nursing Society, 2007), and Hematology & Immunology: Concepts for Nursing (Appleton Century Crofts, 1986) which won an AJN Book of the Year Award. Griffin-Sobel has numerous scholarly articles published on cancer care, faculty development, teaching with technology and interprofessional education. She also served as editor of the Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing (2004-2006) and as associate editor of Oncology Nursing Forum (2002-2004).

Griffin-Sobel is a much sought-after speaker, having lectured across the globe on issues related to technology in health care and cancer care.  She has received numerous honors for her teaching and research including the 2012 Excellence award in Academic Mentoring from the International Nursing Association for Clinical Simulation, and was named a Fellow of the Academy of Nursing Education in 2008.

She has been active in professional organizations such as the National League for Nursing, both on the Academy of Nursing Education Review Panel, and a Center of Excellence consultant; American Association of Colleges of Nursing, where she serves as a CCNE on-site evaluator, and Sigma Theta Tau International.

Her clinical career has been in oncology, particularly care of those with gastrointestinal malignancies.  She earned her PhD at New York University in nursing (1987), her MS in nursing as a clinical nurse specialist at Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing (1981) and her BS in nursing at Herbert H. Lehman College (1975).



Star Bumbanac RN BS is a patient service manager in the Emergency Department at Upstate University Hospital as well as a student in the Nurse Practitioner master's degree program in our College of Nursing. (Photos by Richard Whelsky.)

The pace of an emergency room is a good match for Star Bumbanac’s energy level. Star  is one of two patient service managers in the Emergency Department at Upstate University Hospital.

“Everything comes to our door,” she said. Star’s office is responsible for the management, leadership and oversight of the Emergency Department’s pediatric, adult and minor treatment areas.

Along with her fast-paced, full-time job, Star (RN, BS) is a student in the Upstate College of Nursing Nurse Practitioner master’s degree program and a mother of three

Star came to nursing indirectly. She earned a bachelor’s degree in human services from Cazenovia College, and was deciding among social work, law school or nursing.

Nursing won out. After earning her RN from Crouse Hospital College of Nursing — “I’m a proud Crouse graduate,” she said — Star worked for a year as an ICU nurse at Crouse Hospital, then was a traveling nurse for a year before becoming a clinical educator at Faxton St. Luke’s Health Care in Utica.

While commuting from Syracuse, she took more nursing courses at Utica College and was a nursing instructor at Mohawk Valley Community College. She started her Upstate job in August, when she began her first semester in Upstate’s FNP program.

With that kind of energy, Star thrives in a busy Level-1 trauma center that’s part of an academic medical university.

“There are so many (academic and clinical) opportunities here,” she said. “You’re surrounded by medical residents and students in a learning environment. As a student, you want to be where there’s innovation and specialization. The opportunities at Upstate are endless.”

Posted on With Distinction by Jim McKeever




Nursing wasn’t always at the top of Stephanie Jarvis’ list of career options.  After graduating from Cicero-North Syracuse High School, Stephanie enrolled at Onondaga Community College to study criminal justice.  From there she went to LeMoyne College for a sociology degree, then back to OCC to study business.  None of those felt right.

Then one of her friends – a nurse – suggested nursing as a possibility. Stephanie decided to give it a shot at OCC.  “I remember how frightened I was the first day of class,” she said.  The two-year nursing program at Onondaga was challenging, Stephanie said, but she soon overcame any doubts. She graduated from the program and enrolled in Upstate’s College of Nursing as an RN.

While earning her bachelor’s degree at Upstate, Stephanie worked in the hospital’s Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation unit, then switched to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit in the Golisano Children’s Hospital.

She’s now in the master’s program at Upstate to become a Nurse Practitioner.  “I love it,” Stephanie said. “It’s not a profession where you can just slide by. You have to love it.”

Her advice to students considering nursing?

“Follow your heart,” she said. “Try it, no matter how hard it is, and keep going. There are so many people you can help.”

Eventually, Stephanie wants to combine patient care with teaching. She’s accustomed to being in the classroom while working full-time as a nurse – she enjoys the critical thinking involved in trying to improve patient care — but has her sights set on transitioning from student to teacher.

In addition to working 80 hours every two weeks in the PICU, Stephanie’s taking two or three graduate-level classes each semester. 

“Going into nursing is the best decision I’ve ever made,” she said. “I like change, and keeping busy is important to me. Nursing is the only profession that offers change on a daily basis.”

Posted on With Distinction by Jim McKeever


Geneva Tower will be the new address to have if you’re a student or medical resident at Upstate Medical University this fall.  Formerly known as Townsend Tower, the downtown Syracuse high-rise is getting a complete makeover and will be ready for occupancy in the beginning of August.

The new residence hall for Upstate will boast 139 spacious apartments, including one-bedroom, two-bedroom and four-bedroom units, and amenities of every kind: wireless internet access, air conditioning, laundry facilities, fitness room, free cable television and utilities, and dishwasher.  The building will also feature several conference rooms for group study.

The one- and two-bedroom units have a single private bath room, the four bedroom suite has two private baths and two walk-in storage closets. All units come fully furnished.

A floor plan of a 2-bedroom unit offered at Geneva Tower. The one- and two-bedroom units at Geneva Towers have a single private bath room, the four bedroom suite has two private baths and two walk-in storage closets. All units come fully furnished.

“From the moment this project started, we involved the students by holding focus groups to see what kind of room configurations they preferred and to get their suggestions for furnishings and colors,” said Lindsay Lebowitz, Upstate’s residence director.  “Each unit is decorated with soft muted colors providing students with every opportunity to decorate each unit to represent their own personality.”

Lebowitz said the interest in the new complex among students is very high.  “We’re beginning to book rooms now for students for next fall, and I’m certain interest will only grow once the building nears completion,” she said.

The mild winter has allowed work to continue at a fast pace on the Harrison Street complex.

Lebowitz said students who reserve rooms through Feb. 15 will get six months of free on-site parking.  The parking lot, located on the Adams Street side of the building, will be fenced with access only to residents.

“In real estate, the buzz word is location, location,” said Lebowitz.  “This is a perfect address for students and medical residents.  Everything is just a short walk from your doorstep.”

For more information on Geneva Tower, call Lebowitz at 464-5106, or email

(Story from Upstate OnLine - 2/10/12)

Nursing Alumni News & Stories 2011

Martha Langhorne, MSN, RN, FNP, AOCN®, Receives 2011 Oncology Nursing Society "Pearl Moore Making a Difference Award"

PITTSBURGH, PA – April 25, 2011 – Martha Langhorne, MSN, RN, FNP, AOCN®, is the 2011 recipient of the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) Pearl Moore Making a Difference Award. Langhorne is a nurse practitioner at Binghamton Gastroenterology in Binghamton, NY. The award recognizes her significant contributions to the oncology nursing profession at the local and regional levels. She will be honored for the award at ONS’s 36th Annual Congress, scheduled for April 28–May 1 in Boston, MA. Langhorne is recognized at her institution for the cancer nursing education programs she has developed, her advocacy for certification, and her strong mentoring skills. She is a leader and charter member of her local ONS chapter.

“Compassion is what connects oncology nurses with their patients and families,” said Langhorne. “Yes, nurses have acute assessment skills, clinical expertise, a keen lust for learning, are great at communication and work well with all members of the team. But, it is their compassion for others and their witness of the struggle itself that sets oncology nurses apart.”

She is an active member of ONS, the ONS Clinical Nurse Specialist Special Interest Group, and the New York State Southern Tier Chapter of ONS.

Langhorne received her associate degree in nursing from Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse, NY, her bachelor of science in nursing degree from Syracuse University, her master of science in nursing education and clinical nurse specialist degree, and her post-master’s nurse practitioner certificate from Binghamton University in Binghamton.

The Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) is a professional organization of more than 35,000 registered nurses and other healthcare professionals committed to excellence in oncology nursing and to leading the transformation of cancer care by initiating and actively supporting educational, legislative, and public-awareness efforts to improve the care of people with cancer. ONS provides nurses and healthcare professionals with access to the highest quality educational programs, cancer-care resources, research opportunities, and networks for peer support. Learn more at

News and Stories 2010

Alexander Nicholson, FPMHNP 2012, with his wife, Kristin.  Enrolled full-time, Alex also works as an RN at Hillside Children’s Center in Varrick, NY.


“Nurses are the Face of Patient Care”
Annual White Coat Recognition Held

The Third Annual Nursing White Coat Ceremony was held in Weiskotten Hall, welcoming the master’s students with a white coat presentation, and BS degree students with a book satchel. Approximately 60 students along with their families and friends attended the ceremony and dinner that followed.

The event was made possible by sponsors: KeyBank, the Nursing Alumni Association, Office of the President, and the Student Association of the College of Nursing. 

Sean Capria, KeyBank’s representative at the event, knows firsthand from volunteering in University Hospital’s pediatric oncology unit that, “nurses are the face of patient care. For the patient and their families, they are their advocates and a shoulder to cry on. This ceremony is recognition that is more than well deserved by nurses who have a profound, positive impact on patients and their families during, often, the worst of times.”

See two students from the White Coat event, Elijah Dut and Valerie Khan, in Student Spotlight. 

KeyBank's District Lease Manager Sean Capria; SACON Co-President Nisha Andrews, FNP '11, College Dean Elvira Szigeti, PhD, RN; Upstate Medical University President David R. Smith, MD; Nursing Alumni Association President Bonnie Miner, RN, MS '96.

Sally Hafner, CNS '12, and Edeline Mutanga, FNP '14, enjoy the event. 

RN-to-MS degree students obtaining the BS degree in 2011, ready to start the year with new white coats: Colleen Curtiss, Kathleen McDonnell, Laura Osika-Michales, Valerie Khan and Dolleen Drenckhan.

Largest Class Graduates, Trend in Rising Enrollment

The 2010 Upstate Commencement represents the largest class of nurse graduates for the College of Nursing - conferring 87 degrees, including 42 bachelor’s degrees and 45 master’s degrees. In addition, the College awarded eight registered nurse first assistant (RNFA) certificates, and 14 post-master’s advanced certificates (Adult, Family and Psychiatric NPs, and Education).

According to College of Nursing Dean Elvira Szigeti, PhD, over the past five years, enrollment numbers in the college have grown by 66 percent. In the past, students were primarily entering the baccalaureate program. This spring, 52 percent were in the MS degree program, with 37 percent in the BS degree and 11 percent in the post-master’s advanced certificate programs. Since 2007, the number of graduate students has almost doubled in number, Szigeti noted.

“It is very exciting to see we’ve reached out successfully -- more are going to school for higher goals and responding to the nation’s need for advanced nurse practitioners,” said Szigeti.

Master’s in Nursing Offered in Ithaca
The College of Nursing will offer for the first time classes in Ithaca for registered nurses who want to earn a master’s degree and nurse practitioner certification. Classes will start in Fall 2010 and be held at Cayuga Medical Center in Ithaca.

The program, designed to meet the needs of the working nurse, will feature two courses each semester and can be completed in four years of study. Nurses enrolled in the master’s degree program can receive certification in the following specialties: family nurse practitioner in mental health, family nurse practitioner in pediatrics, nurse practitioner in pediatrics, or clinical nurse specialist. Upstate introduced its bachelor’s degree program in nursing in Ithaca at Cayuga Medical Center in 2006, and expects its class to graduate in 2011.

For an application, call Student Admissions at 800-736-2171 or learn more at:

Nursing Education Outreaches to Northern NY

A new partner institution with Jefferson Community College (JCC), SUNY Upstate Medical University is offering educational programs to benefit the North Country region’s workforce and economic development. Formalizing a partnership with JCC’s Higher Education Center (Center) this January, Upstate provides increased access to bachelor’s and master’s degrees and professional certifications for area residents.

Upstate has been “a leading proponent of this initiative, and in recognizing the critical shortage of nurses, physicians and other healthcare professionals in the Jefferson County area and the need for education programs for those currently working in the field,” noted JCC President Carole A. McCoy.

Initially, Upstate is offering four programs on the JCC campus in Watertown that include two advanced degrees in nursing: a master of science in family health nurse practitioner, and a master of science in family mental health nurse practitioner. Classes for both of the nursing master’s programs began in Fall 2009 and enrollment continues until April 1 for Summer and Fall 2010. There are seven students currently enrolled between the two programs. Designed for the working adult, these nursing programs are offered as part-time study with two courses each semester and approximately four years to degree completion. (Respiratory therapy and medical technology degree programs will also be offered.)

“The College of Nursing has had a longstanding working relationship with nurses in the North Country,” noted Elvira Szigeti, PhD, RN, dean of Upstate’s College of Nursing. “There is an articulation agreement between our College and the JCC program in nursing where graduates of JCC make a seamless transition into our BS degree program.”

College Presents $3,000 to Nursing Scholarship Fund


The Student Association of the College of Nursing (SACON) Class of 2010 raised $1,000 for the Nursing Alumni Association scholarship fund. It was matched both by College of Nursing Dean Elvira Szigeti, PhD, RN and University President David R. Smith, MD, for a total of $3,000 donated for nursing scholarships. Thanks to all! Here, Dean Szigeti accepts the check from SACON co-president, Melissa Reynolds, MS/FNP’10. 


Touch in Patient Care: A Profound Medium of Communication

Kitty Leonard, RN, OCN, MS/FNP (’09), MLT

Touch is an element inherently important to the full dimension of health care practice. As a clinical oncology nurse and massage therapist, Katherine (Kitty) Leonard of Cazenovia, NY, knows that full well. While data exists on touch therapy, Leonard found that very limited “qualitative” literature existed regarding the patient’s perception of touch, so she conducted a study titled, “Participating in You: The Lived Experience of Being Touched in People Being Treated for Cancer,” as part of her MS/FNP degree. She presented her results at the Ross Student Research Day held in March on campus.

“The patient’s experience of being touched is far more than the physical sense of touch,” noted Leonard. “It is what it means to be human in the world. It brings the feeling of being whole and is a profound medium of communication. One patient explained to me that she could tell if practitioners were not engaged with her as a person when they touched her. She said it felt as though they were ‘just doing their j-o-b and not participating in you.’ I thought that was so profound I used it in my title.”

Using open-ended questions, Leonard interviewed 11 patients in treatment at oncology clinics in the northeast on “how they felt being touched in the context of having being treated with chemotherapy for cancer.” 

One patient told Leonard, “being touched is the first minute I look at you.”

The communication of touch builds the feeling of “presence,” for the patient, she found. Feeling supported by family and friends, could also be enhanced by touch. The touch experience -- ranging from massages and hugs, to a light touch of the hand -- conveyed these feelings to the patient: wholeness, acceptance, rapport and reassurance, depending on the quality of the touch and the interaction around it, both spoken and unspoken.

“It helps transform the clinical relationship into a human-to-human relationship,” said Leonard.

However, touch could also bring discomfort to the patient at times: “For some, it was uncomfortable to be touched during the early phase of hair loss; but later, scalp massages felt good,” some participants reported. 

"Health care providers need to be aware of beliefs and attitudes regarding touch and have a depth of self knowledge. Reading ‘cues’ from patients (or the do’s and don’ts of wanting to be touched) can be learned and should be initiated during school, not after graduation,” Leonard summarized.

A nurse to cancer patients for over a decade, Leonard comments that, “these patients give to me as well. They teach me about how life can be lived in profound and wonderful ways in light of adversity. I hope my study will be a springboard to even more detailed studies and interventions relating to touch in patient care.”

© 2015 Foundation for Upstate Medical University