2018 Carlow Laureate John O’Donnell, Dr PH, RN, MSN, CRNA, CHSE, class of 1983.
John O'Donnell is one of the 2018 Carlow Laureates.
O'Donnell has a dual role at the University of Pittsburgh as
professor and chair of the Department of Nurse Anesthesia and
director of the Nurse Anesthesia Program, as well as associate
director at WISER, the Winter Institute for Simulation Education,
which is an internationally renowned simulation center.
O'Donnell credits his advanced degrees with a lifelong love of
learning that was sparked at Carlow University.
"At Carlow, I learned the value of the servant-leader
mentality," he said. "I observed the dedication of the
faculty and staff there and how hard they worked."
He credits several Carlow faculty members for influencing him,
notably, Dr. Claire Hopkins, who taught psychiatric nursing and
conveyed the importance of empathy in practice, and Dr. Carol
Caliendo, who taught obstetrics.
"As a man in nursing, this was an area I had little experience
with, but [Dr. Caliendo] helped me gain the skills needed to work
with women experiencing childbirth of having serious health
issues," he recalls. "In fact, my first nursing job was at
Magee Womens Hospital and I think I was only able to do that
because I gained the confidence to care for women."
He also credits Dr. Santelli, who taught anatomy and physiology,
and Dr. Kozeka, who taught neurophysiology, for sparking his
lifelong interest in anatomy and physiology, and introducing him to
the scientific rigor needed to pursue advanced degrees in
"I was held to high educational standards throughout my time at
Carlow," he said. "As a result, I have always set high
expectations for students and fellow faculty. "I try to
demonstrate through example every day that I am willing to work
just as hard and hold myself to the same high
Among his professional accomplishments, O'Donnell has served on
the National Anesthesia Safety Foundation Board from 2003 to 2015,
and was recently appointed by Governor Tom Wolfe to his second term
on the Pennsylvania Board of Nursing. He has published numerous
books and articles and has been the principle investigator for
multiple educational and research grants.
He advises current Carlow students to "persevere when challenged
and to maintain a sense of curiosity. I don't consider myself
to be the best or smartest student, and I have had my share of
setbacks and challenges during my pursuit of the three degrees I
hold. Grit, determination and the willingness to put in the
hard workd have carried me through."