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Grace Spena grew up with an interest in health sciences, first wanting to be a medical laboratory technologist and later a registered nurse after attending an open house on nursing at Saint Agnes Hospital, where she volunteered as a teenager. Upon completing her education in 1971 from the Jefferson Diploma School of Nursing, Ms. Spena began her career as a Staff Nurse in the Surgical ICU at Jefferson Hospital. She then went to Medical College of Pennsylvania, working as a Staff Nurse in the combined Medical/Surgical ICU and later as the Head Nurse of the 3 West Medical/Surgical unit. After completing her Bachelor’s in Nursing at Villanova University in 1980, Ms. Spena became the Assistant Director for Nursing at Northeastern Hospital. Before long she decided to pursue a Master’s degree in Nursing, also at Villanova. She subsequently worked as a Clinical Director at Saint Mary’s Hospital and as Vice President of Patient Care Services at Saint Agnes Hospital before shifting her career path to be a consultant for nursing at Sacred Heart Hospital’s Surgical Services area and at Patuxent River Naval Base Hospital’s OB/GYN unit, after which she became the Director of Surgical Services at Sacred Heart Hospital until the closure of the hospital in May 1994. After a period of unemployment, due primarily to changes in the healthcare industry which caused a significant impact on healthcare workforce and acute care hospitals, Ms. Spena transitioned to academia working as the College Nurse at Montgomery County Community College. After returning to Jefferson Hospital as the Nurse Manager for the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) for almost two years, Ms. Spena finished her career back at Montgomery County Community College managing health and wellness initiatives. Though now retired, she continues to work part-time at Montgomery County Community College developing employee wellness initiatives and supporting other health related projects.
Thomas Jefferson University, alumni, women, oral histories, nursing, diploma nurse, Diploma Nurses Alumni Association
History of Science, Technology, and Medicine | Nursing | Oral History
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Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce these oral histories must be obtained in writing from the Thomas Jefferson University Archives and Special Collections. No use (beyond limited quotation) should be made of the transcripts of these interviews without authorization.
Oral history was edited by Kelsey Duinkerken, February 2016
Interviews were conducted by Kelsey Duinkerken with Grace Spena on January 29, 2016 and February 15, 2016
Spena, Grace and Duinkerken, Kelsey, "Grace Spena" (2016). Jefferson Nursing. 11.