Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences to merge with St. Joseph’s University

Cris Collingwood//January 19, 2023

Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences to merge with St. Joseph’s University

Cris Collingwood//January 19, 2023

Lancaster-based Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences has signed a definitive agreement to become part of Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. 

In a joint statement Thursday, the schools said the merger, expected to be completed in January 2024, will bring more than 20 nursing and allied health programs to the Philadelphia school while enabling PA College to grow. 

Mary Grace Simcox

The agreement also allows PA College to expand opportunities for students while preserving its tradition of serving South Central Pennsylvania through healthcare education for more than 120 years. Nearly 2,000 PA College students will become part of the Saint Joseph’s community when the merger is completed. 

“By becoming part of Saint Joseph’s, we have an extraordinary opportunity to continue PA College’s valued role in the education and professional development of the regional healthcare workforce while expanding the geographic and demographic reach of its critically needed nursing and allied health programs,” said Mary Grace Simcox, president of PA College. 

Simcox said PA College has been developing a strategic plan for the past few years to determine what it needed to do to continue to grow. In that plan, she said the most important thing to emerge was partnerships “to help us continue to do the good work we do in Lancaster.” 

St. Joseph’s came into the picture, she said, because both schools’ strengths are complimentary with no duplication in programs offered. 

“We want the Lancaster community to know that while ownership is changing, the mission is not,” Simcox said. “The college is not going anywhere, and it will continue to grow.” 

PA College’s history includes a long-standing connection to its founder, Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health (LG Health), where more than 800 employees are current PA College students and thousands more are alumni, PA College said. 

The affiliation with Lancaster General Health will continue at the Lancaster facility, providing clinical placement, and the reimbursement program for tuition will continue. “We provide the workforce for them.”  

PA College students’ licensure exam passage rates are among the best in the nation and state in nursing, a testament to PA College’s strong curricula and excellent faculty and LG Health’s outstanding clinical rotation experiences, Simcox said. 

With the merger, St. Joseph’s will add nursing and allied health programs in Philadelphia.  

“We know that programs like those offered at PA College are not only sought after by students, but they also have an exponential value in the communities where those students then go on to live, work and lead,” said Cheryl A. McConnell, interim president of Saint Joseph’s University. “It has long been our strategy to add nursing to our list of offerings for our students.” 

“We will share our curriculum with them for both the Associate of Science in Nursing and the Bachelorette of Science in Nursing” as they develop their new program, Simcox said. Certificate and two-year nursing and allied health degree programs leading to family-supporting careers will also be added. 

Penn Medicine will reserve clinical placements in the Philadelphia metropolitan area for Saint Joseph’s nursing students, St. Joseph’s said.  

Saint Joseph’s and LG Health said they intend to continually evaluate and adapt educational offerings to meet Southeastern Pennsylvania’s evolving healthcare workforce demands with a sustainable academic portfolio.  

“Our mutual respect and quality of education approach are incredibly complimentary which makes for a great partnership,” McConnell said. “We are excited about the future.” 

Closing of the merger is subject to a variety of accreditation and government approval processes, the schools said.  

This story has been updated to include additional comments from Mary Grace Simcox and Cheryl A. McConnell.