Faculty Spotlight: Health sciences professor earned early start in field

Wednesday, October 23, 2019
Written by: Emily Hollingshead

Photo: Dr. Patricia Maher stands in front of a helicopter at her workplace, AdventHealth Orlando. Maher completed her dissertation on the use of helicopters for emergency response in Central Florida.

Dr. Patricia Maher has always had a firm grasp on what she wanted to do. As a certified paramedic for over 30 years, she was inspired as a child when she watched the TV show “Emergency!”. The show featured the beginnings of the paramedic program in Los Angeles, and Maher was hooked. “I started my healthcare career when I begged my way into an emergency medical technician course when I was 17,” Maher admits. “I had to be 18 to officially enter.” That didn’t stop her though, and she moved on to become a firefighter and paramedic after her EMT degree. 

Dr. Patricia Maher, professor of health sciences.

One thing Maher wishes more people understood about the health sciences industry is how wide the field reaches beyond doctors, nurses and hands-on patient care. “Seminole State offers many of these programs such as informatics, laboratory science, pharmacy, health information management and medical simulation,” Maher said. At her job in the command center at AdventHealth Orlando, she works in one of the largest emerging areas of healthcare: using data to improve patient care and to anticipate the health needs of a community.

As an adjunct faculty member, Maher teaches online courses in Seminole State College of Florida’s health sciences program. While Maher knew early on what she wanted to do and grew her career from there, at Seminole State she can help students find their own path. She rejoices in growing students’ confidence throughout the semester. “It’s not about the professor presenting the material; it is about the students and their understanding of the material.” Maher says. “You have a tremendous opportunity at Seminole State College to learn the basics of the healthcare profession.” 

Maher’s student-focused approach has helped her give attention to students who may be reluctant to ask for help and give them the support they need. This allows her to serve a varied student base from people just out of high school to those who are returning for their education. “You non-traditionals, all of you that are of an older age, I’m 59 years old and I just finished my dissertation, and I’m now a Ph.D. You are never too old to go back,” Maher said. “If you are going on to a university or out into the workforce, what you learn here will put you ahead of the rest of the pack.” 

For her Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration, Maher went back to her roots as a first responder and completed a dissertation revolving around the use of helicopters for emergency response in Central Florida. Now that she has finished her doctorate, what free time she has goes toward spending time with her husband, Chip, a fellow paramedic, and their animals.

If you are interested in the many areas of health sciences, Seminole State offers a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Sciences with a number of related Associate in Science and Associate in Arts degrees for programs including health information technology, respiratory care, nutritional services and more. 

About Seminole State College

Seminole State College of Florida, established in 1965, serves nearly 30,000 students across six sites in Central Florida. A comprehensive college, Seminole State has awarded more than 100,000 credentials, from bachelor's degrees to high school diplomas, and offers more than 200 degrees, certificates and programs designed for success. For more about the college, visit seminolestate.edu
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