Dr. Joan Tropnas

On campus and out in the field, Joan S. Tropnas, Ph.D., Assistant Professor and Director of the Health and Human Services program, knows the intrinsic value of building personal relationships with students and with patients.

“Often times, there is a ‘product line’ mentality when it comes to health and human services,” says Dr. Tropnas, a licensed Clinical Social Worker with more than 25 years of experience. “And while it’s important to move patients through the system, it’s also important to remember that there is a human dynamic, as well.” This dynamic is evident in all facets of the Health and Human Services program, offered by the University’s College of Professional Studies.

By enrolling in this popular program, students are given the opportunity to serve the community and connect with patients on a more personal level through what Dr. Tropnas refers to as “meaningful” internships at local hospitals and other medical providers.

“These are not ‘envelope-stuffing’ internships,” she says with a smile, explaining that through these internships, her students can engage patients and administrators on a very human level. Moreover, students can discover who they really are, and where their professional passions may be. “There’s a lot of self-discovery involved. Students may initially think that they want to work with young children, and after completing an internship with kids, they change their focus altogether.”

Being self-aware plays an important role in each student’s success. “It gives them a better idea of where they fit in the world and leads them to a better understanding of the needs of others.”

The location of St. John’s Queens Campus also plays an important role in students’ learning and development. “Physically, where we are located is huge,” she says. “Queens is one of the most diverse counties in the country.” This rich mix of cultures affords students the opportunity to forge lasting, meaningful relationships in the field, while gaining ,as well, a global perspective on healthcare issues.

Tropnas, whose interests are in the area of medical and mental health disparities among minorities, women and children, knows firsthand the importance of reaching out to the community and one-to-one relationships. She volunteers her time working at St. John’s renowned Advantage Academy, which enables homeless and formerly homeless New Yorkers to earn associate degrees.

If you are interested in the Health and Human Services program, please contact Dr. Joan S. Tropnas at: tropnasj@stjohns.edu