Skip to main content

University Awards for Two Penn Nursing Professors

Peggy Compton and Loretta Sernekos will be honored by the University during its annual awards ceremony on April 17 at 5 PM. Compton will receive a 2023 Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation Award for Distinguished Teaching, and Sernekos will receive a Provost’s Award for Teaching Excellence by Non-Standing Faculty.

Peggy Compton, PHD, RN, FAAN, the van Ameringen Chair in Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, and Professor of Nursing in the Department of Family and Community Health

Motivated by a fundamental desire to understand how the abuse of opioids in the context of addiction affects the functioning of human pain systems, Dr. Compton’s work is grounded in her neuropsychiatric nursing practice in addiction and pain treatment settings and involves the testing and refinement of a novel nursing theory that pain and opioid addiction are interrelated phenomena co-expressed in unique human life responses. Compton has established herself as an expert in identifying opioid abuse and addiction in chronic pain patients, opioid-induced hyperalgesia in patients on chronic opioid therapy and has made significant contributions to the fields of addiction and pain.

Compton’s experience working in several public treatment settings, coupled with her extensive research and publication on pain and opioids, has helped to establish methods to detect alterations in pain responses in patients on opioid therapy and identify substance use disorders and addiction in chronic pain patients on ongoing analgesic therapy. Determining whether patients are taking their opioid medications appropriately, and aggressively treating addiction should it present, are critical to effective pain care, but often challenging for the primary care clinician. She has been instrumental in developing tools that utilize foundational assessment categories such as family/personal history of addiction, psychiatric disorders, and opioid use patterns, to assess for the presence of substance use disorders.

Compton earned a PhD from New York University; a MS from Syracuse University; and a BSN from the University of Rochester. She also completed a post-doctoral fellowship in substance use disorders at the University of California at Los Angeles.

Loretta A. Sernekos, PhD, MSN, AGPCNP-BC, PMHNP-BC, CNE, Advanced Senior Lecturer in the Department of Biobehavioral Health Sciences

For over 20 years at Penn Nursing, Advanced Senior Lecturer Dr. Sernekos has been engaged in graduate and undergraduate nursing curriculum including as Course Director in the graduate course “Advanced Physiology and Pathophysiology” (NURS607), and Pathophysiology, Pharmacology and Therapeutics” (NURS165). Her application of “real world” case studies helps students integrate questions about pathophysiology and pharmacology into realistic scenarios and her application innovative classroom technologies has led to consistent and outstanding teaching performance scores. Her experiences as a caregiver for an older relative continues to inform her teaching, and her lectures incorporate the importance of excellent communication skills when taking care of older adults and their families. Over her many years at Penn Nursing Sernekos is known as a warm, grounded, and compassionate mentor to faculty and students. Many of her former students keep in touch with her for years after they graduate.

Sernekos earned a PhD in Political Science from Rutgers University; a Post-Master’s Certificate from Johns Hopkins University; a MSN from Penn Nursing; a BSN from Thomas Jefferson University; and a BA from The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.