Elissa Topol, MSN, MS, FNP, RN describes herself as being in the “third phase of her adult life.” This former faculty member of the College of Nursing (1981-1991) finds it fitting that she is back with the College as a new member of the Board of Consultors.
Topol holds a BA in psychology from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., a master’s of science in nursing from New York Medical College in New York City and a master’s of science as a Family Nurse Practitioner from the University of Pennsylvania. She has practiced in New York as a staff nurse and assistant head nurse in an emergency department, and held staff nurse and visiting nurse positions in Philadelphia. She gained additional public health experience as a medical officer for the Peace Corps in Cameroon.
While teaching at the College, Topol recalls, “Having come from living in New York City, I was able to welcome Louise (Fitzpatrick) as one New Yorker to another. It served as an instant bond.” Topol enjoyed her years teaching at Villanova and says when life shifted her in another direction as her family grew, she took the many things she learned as an educator and applied them to her volunteer work in the community. “I have stood in awe of all the changes that have occurred since then with program development, faculty qualifications and the new building,” she notes.
Married to well-known hand surgeon A. Lee Osterman, MD, and mother of three adult daughters, Topol is all about community service. She explains, “I come from a family background that emphasized the value of respecting each person regardless of their race, culture, religion or economic background and the importance of giving back to the community.” Initially she focused on volunteer opportunities in the arts and her daughters’ school after leaving the College. Now in this phase of her life, Topol has combined her fundraising and community experience with her nursing background. She is chairperson of the Board of Directors for Main Line Senior Care (Bryn Mawr Terrace and Saunders House), is a hospice volunteer and serves on The Home Care and Hospice Foundation Board of The Hospice and Home Care Network of Main Line Health. Additionally, Topol is a literacy tutor for the Literacy Council of Norristown and a driver for Eldernet. Topol also continues with the Philadelphia Museum of Art Women’s and Craft Show Committee.
As for her return to the College, Topol describes it as keeping her current and energized and it reconnects her to the people and place she loved, “Giving back to the College of Nursing was a natural alliance with the other organizations I am involved with in the community.”