Dr. Gina Panozzo '96
From an early age, friends and family of Gina Panozzo felt she was destined to work in the medical profession. Many thought she would become a veterinarian, as she displayed a big heart and interest in healing animals. Be they dogs, cats, or birds she would do what she could to alleviate their pain and discomfort.
At the time of her graduation from Saints Peter and Paul School, Gina had decided she would rather work with humans. "Their ability to respond and interact influenced the path I chose to follow," she recalls. And what a path it has been.
After graduating from Naperville North, she enrolled at Benedictine University for her pre-nursing courses. From there she went to the University of St. Francis (Joliet) where she earned her B. A. in Nursing.
With her nursing degree in tow, Gina devoted the next eleven years of her career to working with patients via home health care, hospice, QI/PI management (Quality Improvement / Practice Improvement) and psychiatric and mental health nursing. During that period she went back to school earning her MSN (Masters of Science in Nursing) degree from Aurora University. Her thirst for knowledge and desire to learn more of the best practices in health care motivated her to pursue her DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice) from Rush University School of Nursing which she received in 2016. She is also board certified in psychiatric and mental health nursing.
It was while she was actively nursing, however, that Gina identified a growing trend in nursing, namely that traditional brick-and-mortar institutions were increasingly offering more distance-learning components in their curriculum. This made it easier for nurses, who were balancing their professional careers with their personal lives, to have easier access to courses needed for ongoing certification.
With the encouragement of her colleagues and superiors, Gina taught her first online Master's level class at Benedictine University in 2017.
Currently, Dr. Panozzo is also on the staff of DePaul University and Chamberlain College teaching classes at the ADN, BSN, RN, and MSN levels (didactic, online, and in psychiatric clinical settings). As an instructor, Gina has both designed, developed, and revised each school's nursing curriculum.
She is fluent in Spanish and credits the foreign language classes she took at SSPP with that accomplishment. "I feel a moral obligation to work with underserved and diverse individuals such as the homeless and mentally ill populations," she shared, "and being able to speak in their native tongue builds trust and makes our interactions more productive."
Dr. Panozzo is a member of two chapters of Sigma Theta Tau International and the American Psychiatric Nurses Association. In 2016 she received the 40 Under 40 Award through the Illinois Nurses Association and her first publication was focused on reducing readmission levels at a mid-sized home health agency. Her areas of research interest include home health, simulation, the online learning environment, and mental health nursing.
In her spare time, Dr. Panozzo, who is a certified personal trainer, offers physical workouts, dietary assistance, and relaxation training to her clients.
Her most fun away from work, however, is spending quality time with her nephews A.J. and Joey. A.J. will be in first grade at Saints Peter and Paul this fall and his little brother will enter kindergarten in 2019.
"I'm thrilled that my brother, Alan '93 and his wife Cheryl, chose to send them to our alma mater. It's a great school and it will provide them each with the spiritual and academic foundation to succeed later in life."