Sandra Mesics, RN, MSN, CNM, director of St. Luke’s School of Nursing, the oldest nursing school in the country, was honored at University of the Sciences’ 198th Founders’ Day at a ceremony on the University’s Philadelphia Campus on Thursday, February 14, 2019. She received an honorary doctor of science degree from the University.
Mesics was selected for the honor because she exemplifies the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of the University founders throughout her career and personal life. Mesics joined St. Luke’s University Health Network as a nursing instructor before being named the director of the School of Nursing, a position she has held for 15 years. During this time, Mesics implemented two major curriculum revisions, shortened the length of the curriculum, established an evening-weekend track and assisted with the establishment of an RN to BS track at Moravian College. During her tenure, the School of Nursing has graduated over 1,100 students. Since 2007, St. Luke’s School of Nursing graduates have continually outperformed the national average on the NCLEX-RN licensure examination.
Mesics was also responsible for securing the funding and establishment of the Simulation Laboratory, which now has become a separate entity, serving not only the School of Nursing, but the Temple/St. Luke’s School of Medicine and the clinical staff of St. Luke’s University Health Network. Currently, Mesics is the principal investigator of a $1.5 million, 4-year HRSA Nursing Workforce Diversity Grant to increase the number of Latinex and African-American registered nurses.
In addition to her leadership in nursing education and patient care, Mesics, who was assigned male at birth, became active in the Transsexual Action Organization following her own medical transition in the early 1970s. The Organization was the first national group representing the transgender community. She is also recognized by linguists as one of the first individuals to use the term “transgender,” which appeared in Image Magazine, a publication for which she served as publisher and executive editor.
In the early 1990s when the AIDS epidemic hit the LGBT community, Mesics and her spouse formed the team that created the St. Stephen’s AIDS ministry in Miami, Florida, providing housing and medical-related support to AIDS victims. This experience sparked a passion for patient care. Mesics graduated from Barry University, becoming a registered nurse, and earned a master’s degree in nurse-midwifery from the University of Miami.
She has served as treasurer of the Pennsylvania League for Nursing and is a member of Sigma Theta Tau Honor Society of Nursing, the National League for Nursing, the National Coalition of Hospital-Associated Schools and Colleges of Nursing, the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, and the Abortion Care Network.
Mesics said, “I am humbled and deeply grateful to be honored by the University of the Sciences. I hope that this honor inspires other LGBT youth to pursue careers in these fields and recognize that each of us in our own unique ways can make a positive contribution to the lives of others.”
Mesics lives in Bethlehem with her spouse, Sara, with their two cats, Biscuit and Annie. She and Sara were among the first same-gender couples to receive a Pennsylvania marriage license in 2013.