St. Marys’ one-of-a-kind Nurses’ Study Club

Photo by Yelena Kisler – Pictured from left to right are St. Marys Nurses’ Study Club members Secretary Mary Kay Frey, President Lori Saleh, Executive Committee member Ann Kneidel, Treasurer Charlotte Beimel and Executive Committee member Ann Pearson.
Yelena Kisler
Staff Writer

Since 1940, St. Marys’ nurses have been coming together to socialize, learn and help future nurses on their paths. Members say the St. Marys Nurses’ Study Club is the only club of its kind in the country.
“This is a private organization that was developed in 1940 by a group of nurses who were going to plan an event,” said Ann Pearson, a member of the Executive Committee for the club. “And they decided, after they had done that planning, that they needed to get together all the time, and so it’s been going ever since.”
Although members believe the St. Marys Nurses’ Study Club is the only one of its kind currently operating, it inspired sister clubs in the region in its early years.
“There was one in Ridgway, back in the day when Ridgway had a hospital, but they dissolved,” Pearson said. The nurses said Emporium had a club at one point as well, but over time the St. Marys club absorbed both.
The official mission statement of the club states that the goal is “to promote interest in the study of medical topics and nursing problems and to provide health-related education and fellowship for members of the group,” said Club President Lori Saleh.
“The fellowship is a big part of it,” said Executive Committee member Ann Kneidel. “As a longtime retiree, keeping in touch with the people that I know from the hospital has been great.”
The nurses all said that socializing with other nurses is a big reason they decided to join the club.
“We support each other,” said Secretary Mary Kay Frey. “It’s a support group, it’s the socialization that comes in.”
“And it is a continuing education because we have nurses from all different fields and we continue to find out how nursing is changing,” said Saleh. “We have a speaker, and a lot of times the social will carry over what the speaker spoke about. Dr. Cienciva spoke about Lyme’s Disease and then we continued to speak about Lyme’s Disease. We had a woman that spoke about a Mediterranean Diet and we [usually] have a little luncheon or snack, and it kind of was the theme of the diet.”
Other past speakers include LeRoy Kopp from New Horizons Healthy Foods who talked about healthy eating and veganism, Michelle Muccio who discussed her job as coroner, author Susan Evans, an ovarian cancer survivor, and many doctors, nurses and other medical professionals.
“We try to keep the topic medically related,” said Pearson. “And it’s for our own education. Our group is retired on down to the working staff. But as people retire they continue to stay in the organization to keep in touch.” Pearson estimates that their membership is split roughly in half between retired and active nurses.
“And the members are from all aspects of nursing,” said Saleh. “We have retired nurses from the floor and school nurses, we’ve had community nurses, the plant nurses.” Though the club started out just for RNs, in the last four years, they have expanded their membership to include LPNs as well.
The speakers all present on a voluntary basis while keeping the club’s costs pretty minimal.
“We have very minimal dues,” said Pearson.
A major aspect of the Nurses’ Study Club is their scholarship award. Each year the nurses provide a scholarship for one area student who plans to pursue a career in nursing.
“To raise money for the scholarship fund we each donate every year,” said Pearson. “And then we also accept memorial donations if anyone wants to name us as the memorial for their loved one that passed, we accept that as well towards the scholarship fund.”


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