Making a Difference in Health Careers

April 7, 2017

Greenfield Community College welcomes Deb Palmeri in her new role as Program Coordinator for GCC’s Practical Nursing Program (PN).  Already a familiar face in the GCC community and as a local nursing educator, Deb has served as the Chief Nursing Officer & Vice-President of Patient Care at Baystate Franklin Medical Center (BFMC) for the past ten years. In her role at BFMC, Deb worked collaboratively with GCC faculty to enhance the educational experience of clinical rotations for students in the Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) program. She has also taught GCC ADN seminar classes and education modules for BFMC nursing staff.

Nancy Craig-Williams, Assistant Dean of Nursing, praised Deb saying, “GCC is very fortunate Deb brings her years of experience as a nurse and also her knowledge as a nurse executive in Franklin County.  She has a deep understanding of the profession and regional health care needs.  Deb has a clear sense of future health care planning and its implications for nurses and their education needed to support the area’s health care agencies. She is very committed and supportive to students as they navigate the rigors of the nursing program. She has been a collegial member of the nursing program faculty.”

Commenting on her new role, Deb said, “I have a passion for education and enjoy being part of the new generation of nurses. Because GCC’s Practical Nursing program is small, the faculty have a great deal of one-on-one interaction and influence with students. I am impressed the students care about their educational experience. With the increasing professionalization of the nursing field, it is heartening to see how many students are using the PN program as a gateway to a future RN program. I truly believe knowledge enhances nursing skills and patient care. I have lived my passion as a nurse, helped to bring the voice of bedside nurses to conversations about the educational needs of the staff, create unit-based nursing councils and educators, and enhanced resources for staff to attend national, state and local conferences. Now, I am thrilled to be able to focus my passion on GCC’s Practical Nursing Program.”

Deb has a Diploma from Holyoke Hospital, an Associate of Science from Holyoke Community Hospital, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from College of Our Lady of the Elms, and a Master’s of Science in Nursing from the University of Hartford.

Which Health Career program is right for you?

GCC offers specialized academic advising to anyone interested in the GCC’s Practical Nursing Certificate Program, Associate Degree Nursing Program, as well as for those interested in transitioning to a Bachelor of Science in Nursing completion program.  Now, more than ever, people interested in nursing need to pursue further education. There is a push for all nurses across the country to achieve their Bachelor of Science in Nursing by the year 2020. Nursing students must be forward thinking about their decision making process regarding continuing on in their education.

Natalie Alexander is GCC’s Nursing Pathways Transition Advisor.  Natalie has been the Nursing Pathways Transition Advisor for GCC’s PN and ADN programs for two years and has served as adjunct faculty member with a clinical instructor role in both programs for five years. Natalie provides academic and career goal advising from Practical Nursing to the Advanced Practice/Nurse Practitioner level.  Natalie understands both the concerns of individual students and the many educational resources available to them. She said, ““I try to get a sense of the type of nursing they see themselves working in and talk about the amount of education they will require to reach that goal.  Nursing has so many different career paths and choosing the right path is an individual journey, often a little guidance and encouragement is all that is needed”.

You can contact Natalie at , or 413-775-1873 or stop by drop-in office hours Mondays and Thursdays from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. in room E-123B in the East Building, Main Campus.

Financial support is available.

The Greenfield Community College Jean Simmons Nursing Endowed Chair Fund has scholarship opportunities for individuals interested in a nursing career.   The scholarships are named for long-time GCC nurse educator Jean Simmons, GCC Class of 1965. These scholarships encourage those interested in nursing careers to continue their education to higher levels of practice. The scholarships support seamless education progression in nursing with awards available to study in the Practical Nursing Certificate Program, the Associate Degree Nursing Program, as well as for GCC graduates pursuing Bachelor’s Degrees in Nursing.

Individuals eligible for these scholarships are:

  • Certified Nursing Assistants/Home Health Aides who have been accepted and/or enrolled in the GCC Practical Nursing Certificate Program;
  • Licensed Practical or Vocational Nurses or recent graduates of a Practical/Vocational Nursing program who have been accepted and enrolled in the GCC Associate Degree Nursing Program;
  • Registered Nurses who are graduates of the GCC AD Nursing Program and have been accepted and enrolled in an accredited RN to BSN Program.

For more information about the scholarships, contact Melissa Davis, AD Nursing Program Assistant at 413-775-1753, or Nancy Craig-Williams, Assistant Dean at 413-775-1758,

By Mary McClintock, ’82

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