Growing up in Little Compton, Rhode Island, Jennifer Romagnolo '05 (M) always wanted to work with the elderly. She's now spent many years doing so as a licensed nursing home administrator – something that Salve Regina helped her achieve.
"Starting in eighth grade, I was involved in an older adult elderly program and visited them in nursing homes as a program in school," she said.
When Romagnolo graduated from Rhode Island College in 1999 with a degree in social work and a minor in gerontology, she had already gained some experience interning at an adult daycare. This confirmed her dedication to working with the elderly, and her first job out of college was a social worker at a nursing home on Aquidneck Island.
Romagnolo never envisioned herself working in a nursing home. However, as her role shifted from social worker to administrator at her first job, she realized she was loving the role. She decided to pursue a master's degree in healthcare administration so she could sit for the licensing test and become a licensed nursing home administrator.
"I had a great experience – I loved all the classes," she said of her time at Salve Regina. "I still talk to several of the faculty that I had in the industry. As a nursing home administrator on Aquidneck Island, I've even taken care of some of their family members."
When it comes to earning a master's degree in healthcare administration, Romagnolo emphasized that there is a vast array of careers that one pursue with the degree – and the education she received at Salve Regina showed just how much knowledge can be gained.
"There are so many different pieces to health care that you can get into," she said. "There are basic healthcare administration classes, but there are also classes on leadership, ethics, finances. There's an admissions piece, there's a nursing piece, there's social work, there's maintenance, there's housekeeping, there's laundry, there's food service. There's just so many things that you can do within healthcare administration."
Romagnolo has worked at two nursing homes and is currently the nursing home administrator at Village House Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Newport. She has hosted many Salve Regina interns at Village House – from both the undergraduate program in social work and the graduate program in healthcare administration – and she emphasizes just how much need there is for skilled professionals in the field.
"Nursing home administrators are much very much needed in this industry," she said. "These are well-paying jobs. People don't know that, and so I think it's a great opportunity for people to understand that it's a job that is out there that is much needed."