by Jordan Chapman
When you walk through the doorway of Room 232 in Alumnae Hall, you’ll see an East Rockaway Fire Department seal on the upper-left portion of the back wall.
Below the seal and sitting on top of the mini-fridge is a picture of its owner, Thomas Virgona, Ph.D., submerged off the coast of Hawaii, adorned in full scuba gear and holding a small octopus. Dr. Virgona has been diving for about 20 years, and his commitment to the fire department illustrates his passion for service, which he has engrained himself in throughout his career and brought to Adelphi.
Dr. Virgona first worked at the University 25 years ago as a programmer, when he helped write the administrative system that is still in use today. Following that he began a 20-year adventure on Wall Street as a Citigroup employee working in technology, then turned college professor in 2007. He landed back at Adelphi in 2011 to teach healthcare informatics, decision support systems and quality management courses—the business side of medicine—at University College.
He’s eager to see his students interested and successful, and he’s seen great outcomes during his time teaching at the school.
Dr. Virgona’s students are so enthusiastic in his classes because everything he teaches is brand new. “Nobody has heard of telemedicine before or electronic health records, and people are interested in this,” he said, also noting a sea change in medical compensation that also could help explain the interest in his courses. A previous graduate course he taught introduced a handful of medical doctors working toward an M.B.A. Through them he discovered that the administrative side of medicine is becoming more lucrative than actual medical practice.
“People come to my classes enthused, and they like technology. They like knowing what goes on behind the scenes, so that’s an advantage I have. It’s not a dull subject,” he said, not to mention that students who go forward in nursing will need that knowledge for the rest of their careers. “They have a real interest in getting involved and understanding what’s going on.”
Dr. Virgona is thrilled when his students thrive and make the material their own by making a career out of the subject matter.
Many students have had articles published. Patricia Savage, currently a graduate student in nursing education, had her article “Application of Digital Imaging and Transmission in Monitoring of Isolated Post-Surgical Patients” published by the Northeast Business and Economics Association.
“From this [publication], she’s been able to present and now she’s networking. From that she’s going to get job offers,” Dr. Virgona said proudly.
“I’m happy I came here…it was a positive experience 25 years ago and it’s a positive experience right now.”