Loretta A. Sernekos, PhD, MSN, AGPCNP-BC, CNE
When Loretta A. Sernekos became very involved in taking care of a family member with a chronic pain syndrome and another family member with dementia, she became an avid reader of medical journals and started teaching stress management and relaxation techniques to chronic pain patients. She asked so many questions about medicine that her own nurse practitioner suggested that she go into nursing.
“As both a nurse and teacher, I constantly emphasize to all my students how important it is to educate both patients and caregivers.”
- PhD, Rutgers University, 1996
- MSN, University of Pennsylvania , 2012
- BSN, Thomas Jefferson University, 2010
- BA, The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, 1986
In the graduate course “Advanced Physiology and Pathophysiology” (NURS607), Dr. Sernekos presents case studies she developed, based on actual patients, to illustrate how understanding physiological and pathophysiological concepts relates directly to the diagnosis and treatment of diseases. ”Pathophysiology, Pharmacology and Therapeutics” (NURS165), an undergraduate course, also includes case studies developed by Dr. Sernekos that help students integrate questions about pathophysiology and pharmacology into a realistic scenario.
For instance, what should a nurse practitioner teach a patient or a caregiver about managing a disease such as diabetes or heart failure? In Dr. Sernekos’ class, the objective is to so completely understand a disease’s pathophysiology that the pharmacologic treatment seems logical.
Dr. Sernekos is also a guest lecturer in other courses on stroke in older adults, systemic lupus erythematosus, and diabetes.
Dr. Sernekos had already earned a PhD in political science and had taught at Rutgers University, but she decided to switch gears and pursue a career in nursing. By 2010, she had earned her BSN degree and started working as a staff nurse taking care of patients after strokes, brain surgery, or traumatic brain injuries at Magee Rehabilitation Hospital in Philadelphia.
Two years later, after receiving her MSN degree from Penn Nursing, she started a new career as an adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner. Today, she is now a full-time lecturer at Penn Nursing. Her experiences as a caregiver for an older relative continues to inform Dr. Sernekos’ teaching, and her lectures incorporate the importance of good communication skills when taking care of older adults.
Opportunities to Learn and Collaborate at Penn Nursing
Dr. Sernekos teaches advanced physiology and pathophysiology to graduate students, and pathophysiology and pharmacology to undergraduates. She explains why knowing the normal state of cellular and body functions (physiological) is crucial to understanding the abnormal state caused by injury, disease, or aging (pathophysiological). With her training in gerontology, Dr. Sernekos also focuses on how older adults present differently than younger patients, and how they respond differently to medications. Her clinical practice as an adult-gerontology nurse practitioner at two primary and family care practices in New Jersey also informs her teaching.
Selected Career Highlights
- Gail Kass Honorary Endowed Scholars Program awardee
- Member, American Academy of Nurse Practitioners
- Author, “Nutritional Treatment of Pressure Ulcers: What is the evidence?,” Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, 25, 281-288. doi:10.1002/2327-6924.12025