Professors Earn NCA Top Panel Award

Pitt-Johnstown

posted February 02, 2017


Pictured from left: Susan M. Wieczorek, Pitt-Johnstown; Michael Warner, Patient Advocacy Initiatives; Janet Panoch, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis; and Patty Wharton-Michael, Pitt-Johnstown

University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown professors Susan Wieczorek and Patty Wharton-Michael recently received the Top Panel Award from the National Communication Association.

The award was announced shortly after their attendance at the National Communication Association Conference, which took place in Philadelphia in November 2016.

Dr. Wieczorek, an Assistant Professor of Communication, developed the panel titled Turning the Tables on Patient Advocacy: Responsible Patients Informing Responsive Providers, which she and Dr. Wharton-Michael, Associate Professor of Communication, presented. The effort resulted in the Top Panel Award distinction for the Training and Development Division.

"This was recognized, I believe, because of the cross-disciplinary scope of panelists and because of the recent growing emphasis on 'Patient Advocacy' within Medical Humanities research and educational programming," said Dr. Wieczorek.

"This panel of national experts demonstrated not only how the practitioners might be better trained (from undergraduate through professional levels), but also how the patients themselves can facilitate the effectiveness of their own medical care through newly designed interactive videos, social media venues, news broadcasting services, and various book publications."

Dr. Wharton-Michael's work specifically focused on interviews with parents who choose not to vaccinate their children.

"As reported by the Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare, an estimated 80-percent of medical errors derive from communication mishaps," said Dr. Wieczorek.

"By having communication and healthcare professionals facilitate patient awareness through a wide variety of training programs, health risk reduction can lead to more effective, safe, and satisfying medical outcomes."


The University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown is marking its 90th anniversary well as the 50th year of the campus in its Richland Township location. Pitt-Johnstown was founded in 1927 and is the first and largest regional campus of the University of Pittsburgh. Pitt-Johnstown is recognized by the Princeton Review as a “Best in the Northeast” college, by G.I. Jobs as a “Military Friendly School,” and by Pennsylvania Business Central as a "Top 100 Organization.” The distinctive combination of Pitt-Johnstown’s people, programs, and place results in exceptional performance in preparing students for career and professional success. Pitt-Johnstown is the regional leader, educating for success in the Real World.