LATROBE, PA – Excela Health’s senior vice president and chief nursing officer Helen K. Burns, Ph.D., R.N., will serve as the speaker at Saint Vincent College’s December Commencement at 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, in the Robert S. Carey Student Center.
Burns, who has served as the chief nursing officer at Excela since January 2011, has enjoyed a distinguished nursing career, with extensive experience in education and administration. In her current role at Excela, she oversees all nursing practice across the health organization, which includes three licensed hospitals, two free-standing outpatient surgery centers and home care and hospice services.
Saint Vincent President Br. Norman Hipps, O.S.B., Ph.D., said, ”I am delighted that our December graduates will hear from a person committed to the care and well-being of patients, one who can share insights from her many years of leadership in health care and in the broader community.”
Burns graduated from Latrobe Area Hospital's School of Nursing and completed her baccalaureate degree in nursing at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, before earning master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Pittsburgh. At Excela Latrobe Hospital, she was staff clinician in the intensive coronary care unit, and served as head nurse in the emergency department, before going on to serve as director of critical care services and manager of clinical service lines at Excela Westmoreland Hospital. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing (FAAN), and holds the credential of Nurse Executive Advanced – Board Certified (NEA-BC).
No stranger to nursing education, she was a professor and associate dean for clinical education in the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Nursing, and still continues to hold an adjunct professor position. This teaching background made her a trusted consultant during the planning stages of the new bachelor of science in nursing collaboration between Saint Vincent and Carlow University.
Additionally, Burns has served as deputy secretary of health planning and assessment for the Pennsylvania Department of Health, while her research has been published in numerous professional journals.
Burns sits on the board of directors for Excela Health and serves as a member of its quality and governance committees. She has been active in a variety of professional nursing organizations, having served as president of the Eta Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau, board member of the Pennsylvania State Nurses Association and secretary for the Pennsylvania Organization of Nurse Leaders.
Archabbot Douglas R. Nowicki, O.S.B., chancellor, Br. Norman, and Dr. John Smetanka, vice president for academic affairs, will preside over Saint Vincent’s 14th annual December Commencement, during which 139 bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees will be conferred. The event will be held in the Performing Arts Center in the Robert S. Carey Student Center.
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