West Orange High School Nurse Receives Doctorate in Public Health

West Orange High School Nurse Denise Makri-Werzen has received her Doctorate in Public Health: Community Health. Dr. Makri-Werzen has worked in the West Orange School District for the past 14 years and has served as a nurse at West Orange High School for the past 11 years.

After receiving a BS in Medical Technology with a minor in Biology from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 1975, Makri-Werzen went on to earn her MS in Human Physiology (Assisted Reproductive Medicine) from FDU Dental. She received a NJ ADS in Nursing in 1998 from Bergen Community College and worked as a NJ Certified School Nurse/Advance Standing Health Teacher at Caldwell University from 2004-2006. During this time, Makri-Werzen raised three children and grew her own business, Med-Con Associates (est. 2008), consulting for the FDA on SAE’s Med Watch Reports while remaining active as a consultant in the field of Assisted Reproductive Medicine and Clinical Laboratories.

Makri-Werzen began her Doctoral studies with Walden University in 2012 while working full-time, caring for her children, her parents, and her husband Bill, who passed away in 2018. Her Doctoral Dissertation was “Perceived Health/Safety Risks and Critical Thinking Skills in College Students Using Social Media Networking,” and she was awarded her Doctorate in Public Health in February.

“It was ten arduous years of hard work and perseverance, through many personal and financial trials and tribulations, but I persevered and reached my goal on 2/7/22 upon receiving my Ph.D. in Public Health. This is an honor that so few individuals achieve,” said Dr. Makri-Werzen.

With her diverse background, Makri-Werzen became an important resource during the pandemic at the high school.

“It has been a challenge for our HS school population during the Covid 19 Pandemic, but I had the advantage of being a Public Health professional as well as an RN/CSN/HT and MT (ASCP)” she noted.

“Understanding so many aspects of dealing with the pandemic, such as contact tracing and knowledge of the Covid vaccines’ key ingredients (J&J (adenovirus vector), Moderna and Pfizer (antisense therapy) helped students and staff understand how the vaccines worked along with their target mechanisms. My ten years served at Novartis Pharmaceutical as a Senior Research Scientist in preclinical Oncology Drug development assisted in explaining to staff and students any questions they presented about the vaccine’s safety/efficacy and any potential (SAE’s) serious adverse effects,” she explained.

In addition to her work at the high school and her consulting business, Makri-Werzen is the Program Coordinator of the Essex County School Nurses Association and is a Certified Basic Life Instructor (Hackensack University Medical Center) AHA CPR: AED. She received the 2018 New Jersey State School Nurses Association Award for Essex County.

“I enjoy my diverse professional career and when I retire from the public school system I will remain active as a consultant, working with professional colleagues from diverse pharmaceutical companies, educational organizations, and the CDC, FDA, and WHO,” Makri-Werzen added.

“In the end, I want to live my life to the fullest and continue to enjoy both professional and personal growth and be thankful for supportive family and friends,” she concluded.

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