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Melissa O'Connor, PhD - Villanova University. Villanova, PA, US

Melissa O'Connor, PhD

The M. Louise Fitzpatrick Endowed Professor in Community and Home Health Nursing | M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing | Villanova University


Melissa O'Connor, PhD, MBA, RN, FGSA, FAAN, is an expert in home health care, geriatric nursing and transitions in care.



Areas of Expertise (6)


Transitions in Care

Geriatric Home Health

Geriatric Nursing

Applied Health Informatics

Geriatrics and Gerontology


Dr. Melissa O’Connor is the The M. Louise Fitzpatrick Endowed Professor in Community and Home Health Nursing and Director of the Gerontology Interest Group (The GiG), a campus-wide collaboration of students, faculty, and staff who engage in research, advocacy and workforce development to support the needs of the aging population. Her work aims to aid geriatric health care providers in clinical decision-making and care management and, in parallel, helps the elderly age in place in the community, thus avoiding hospitalization. She frequently uses large data sets in her studies. She is an excellent source on geriatric nursing and home health care, including the need to create a systemic, evidence-based mechanism to identify patients who are ready for discharge from hospital care and home health services.

Education (3)

University of Pennsylvania: PhD

Eastern University: MBA

Thomas Jefferson University: BSN

Select Accomplishments (4)

Distinguished Educator in Gerontological Nursing (professional)

National Hartford Center of Gerontological Nursing Excellence (NHCGNE) 2018

Rising Star Research Award (professional)

Eastern Nursing Research Society 2017

Excellence in Research Award

Alpha Nu Chapter, Villanova University College of Nursing Sigma Theta Tau International 2016

Geriatric/Gerontological Nursing Award (professional)

Springer Publishing Company 2015

Affiliations (4)

  • Board of Trustees, Visiting Nurse Association of Greater Philadelphia
  • Eugenie and Joseph Doyle Research Fellow, Center for Home Care Policy & Research, Visiting Nurse Service of New York
  • Associate Faculty, Center for Business Analytics, Villanova School of Business
  • Associate Faculty, NewCourtland Center for Transitions and Health, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing

Select Media Appearances (8)

The Tragedy Of 'St. Joe's

National Public Radio  radio


The people in the yellow hazmat suits arrived at St. Joseph's Senior Home in Woodbridge, N.J., on a crisp morning in late March, emerging from blue and white ambulance buses all suited up, like astronauts descending from a lunar rover. For the 78 residents whom they had come to evacuate on March 25, however, this all felt more like an alien abduction. As the hazmats approached, some residents shouted and furiously clawed at the air; others begged not to be taken away, clutching the nuns' sleeves, dissolving into tears. The sisters who ran St. Joseph's told the residents' families later they'd never seen anything like it. "People were loaded up like cattle," said one person who saw the events unfold. "It was horrible. ... When I close my eyes, even today, I still see it."

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Adult children care for seniors half a world away

The Dallas Morning News  online


Raj Menon keeps a list of his elderly parents’ medications in a spreadsheet and photos of their meds in his iPhone. He knows the phone number for their local pharmacist and the log-in credentials for his father’s account in the government health care platform. If he’s extra thorough about recordkeeping, it’s because Menon lives in Plano and his parents live nearly 9,000 miles away, in Mumbai, India. “We’ve had a few crises in the past where a close relative had to be admitted to the hospital or ICU, and it was difficult,” he says. His two siblings live in Mumbai and are hands-on with their parents’ caregiving, but as the oldest son, he is the one whom family members turn to for navigating urgent medical decisions.

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Nursing is a hot degree. Philly-area undergrads can earn more than $70,000 out of college. | Does that Degree Pay?

The Philadelphia Inquirer  online


“Villanova and Penn have opportunities for student scholarships, but you don’t know until you get in the door,” said Melissa O’Connor, associate professor of nursing at Villanova, and chair of the board of trustees of Visiting Nurse Association of Greater Philadelphia. Pay attention to the school’s state board/licensing exam pass rate, O’Connor said. “Don’t go to a four-year college for nursing that doesn’t have a high pass rate” for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) test. Villanova’s is 96.7%, she said. “It should be in the 90s,” at least. “If you don’t pass, what’s the sense of getting the degree?”

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Swamped ERs Mean Opportunity and Danger for Home-Care Industry

Bloomberg  online


Home-health agencies are telling workers to screen new patients by telephone for Covid-19 symptoms when they call for service and prior to each visit, said Melissa O’Connor, who chairs the board of trustees at the Visiting Nurse Association of Greater Philadelphia. “We’re also telling nurses, if you are not well do not go to work.”

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How to Help Loved Ones Who Have Regular Doctor's Visits During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Parade  online


For new or urgent issues, Melissa O’Connor, PhD, a registered nurse and an associate professor at Villanova University’s College of Nursing, recommends “calling a Medicare-certified home health agency to request an evaluation by a visiting nurse and/or a physician office that offers home visits.” You can also, she says, consider a telehealth visit, which many home health agencies and some retail pharmacies offer.”

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Nursing homes have unique challenge in limiting exposure to coronavirus

KYW NewsRadio 1060 AM, Philadelphia  radio


"This is different because of how contagious it is and how scary and quickly it has been spreading," said Melissa O'Connor, director of the Gerontology Interest Group, and associate professor of nursing at Villanova University. She says nursing homes are limiting visits from the outside for the safety of patients. "Each nursing home or each long-term care facility will be different. The CDC is recommending certain things that they need to do, but then other facilities are taking it a step further, so they can really be sure that they are keeping the residents safe," she said.

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Being Treated at Home Can Help People Save Money and Heal Faster

Healthline  online


“This study shows better outcomes for a lower cost in addition to a better use of resources. This is promising work and more and more attention is being paid to hospital care at home,” said Melissa O’Connor, PhD, MBA, RN, FGSA, and director, Geriatric Interest Group, Villanova University, M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing. “However, further work is needed to determine the type of patient this best works for related to their severity of illness,” she said. “Do they need a caregiver? Do they need to be cognitively intact? What type of home environment is required?”

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Blacks using home health care most likely to be rehospitalized

St. Louis American  online


The study, “Relationships between race/ethnicity and health care utilization among older post-acute home health care patients,” was published in the Journal of Applied Gerontology. Funding was provided in part by the National Institutes of Health (T32NR009356). Other researchers involved in the study were Liming Huang, Alexandra Hanlon and Kathryn H. Bowles of the University of Pennsylvania; David Russell of Appalachian State University; and Melissa O’Connor of Villanova University.

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Research Grants (3)

The Feasibility of Electronic Home Health Record Data Extraction

Villanova University Summer Grant Program 


Determining Readiness for Discharge from Skilled Home Health Services: A Mixed Methods Study

National Hartford Centers of Gerontological Nursing Excellence, John A. Hartford Foundation 


Identifying Critical Factors in Determining Readiness for Discharge from Skilled Home Health Services

Eugenie and Joseph Doyle Research Partnership Fund 


Select Academic Articles (5)

Identifying distinct risk profiles to predict adverse events among community-dwelling older adults

Geriatric Nursing

O’Connor, M., Hanlon, A. L., Mauer, E., Meghani, S., Masterson-Creber, R., Marcantonio, S., Coburn, K., Van Cleave, J., Davitt, J., Riegel, B., Bowles, K. H., Keim, S., Greenberg, S. A., Sefcik, J. S., Topaz, M., Kong, D., Naylor, M. D.


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Identifying critical factors in determining readiness from skilled home health: An interprofessional perspective.

Research in Gerontological Nursing

O’Connor, M., Moriarty, H., Madden-Baer, R., & Bowles, K. H.


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Innovations in gerontological nursing education: Exposing baccalaureate nursing students to transitional care

Home Healthcare Now

O’Connor, M., Arcamone, A., Amorim, F., Hoban, M. B., Boyd, R. M., Fowler, L., Marcelli, T., Smith, J., Nassar, K., & Fitzpatrick, L. M.


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Patient characteristics predicting readmission among individuals hospitalized for heart failure

Medical Care Research and Review

O’Connor, M., Murtaugh, C. M., Shah, S., Barrón-Vaya, Y., Bowles, K. H., Peng, T. R., Zhu, C. W., Feldman, P. H.


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The impact of home health length of stay and number of skilled nursing visits on hospitalization among Medicare-reimbursed skilled home health beneficiaries

Research in Nursing and Health

O’Connor, M., Hanlon, A., Naylor, M. D. & Bowles, K. H.


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