Paging Dr. Orbell

    Guest Posts on County 10 are provided by contributors and the opinions, thoughts, and comments within are their own and may not necessarily reflect those of County 10.

    I often write of extraordinary people, doing extraordinary things. I have family members who meet these criteria, but one of the rules of journalism, albeit an unwritten one, is that you don’t get to tell the story of something amazing accomplished by a close family member. Well, I’m going to break that rule.

    Dr. Staci Lynn Orbell – h/t family photo

    I’d like to describe my daughter Staci as an overachiever, but that would not be accurate. In the world of journalism, there is an adage that describes the process well. Someone may ask you about a story and they’ll say, “Is this true?” My response is almost always, “No, but it’s accurate.”


    When it comes to Staci and her academic progress, there is no question that what she has done is amazing, and what I’m about to describe is both true and accurate.

    She received her first “B” at the University of Wyoming. I’m not sure what the class was, but her innate ability to dive into all things academic was stunted a bit by that grade.

    Other people hear about a “B” and are quick to celebrate.

    Anything aside from an “A” is unacceptable to Staci, her mom had the same attitude toward academic excellence.


    People claim she gets her intellect and writing ability from me, but I’m not sure. She is talented, driven, and now the first Ph.D. in our extended family.

    Dr. Staci Lynn Orbell has a nice ring to it.

    Staci graduated from Riverton High School as valedictorian in 2006. She received the highest Hathaway Scholarship offered due to her combination of straight “As” at RHS and Central Wyoming College and top-notch ACT scores.


    Though it paid tuition and fees, it turned out to be minuscule in comparison with the others she received and with the money my parents set aside for all five of their grandchildren to go on to higher education. My parents’ plan worked, all five hold bachelor’s degrees, a couple master’s degree, a DPT and now Staci with a doctorate.

    She was one of those rare students who made money as she attended college.

    Staci was just as talented musically as she is academically, playing a wide variety of instruments. A two-time all-state choir selection, proficient in piano and flute, able to play the guitar, and because she wanted to be part of the Riverton High School jazz band, and they already had a keyboard player, she played the trombone. She picked up the slide trombone in a single summer to join John Aanestad’s jazz band, though she never enjoyed it as much as the piano and flute.


    At the University of Wyoming, she was inducted into Sigma Theta Tau, the nursing honor society, and earned a BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) in 2010. After a stint at Ivinson Memorial Hospital, she and Adam moved to Pittsburgh where she worked at a skin cancer clinic and then Excela Health before obtaining a master’s in nursing from Carlow University.  She obtained a certified post-anesthesia nursing credential at that time (CPAN) and became very involved with the American Society of Perianesthesia Nurses doing national committee work including writing nursing standards of practice and an author/book editor position on the book which was published in 2019.

    She moved on to one of the largest medical groups in the United States, UPMC (The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center). UPMC has 8,000 doctors, nurses, and staff in 40 hospitals and 800 clinical locations. It is massive in scale.

    While Staci was an active nurse with UPMC and a mom with two young daughters, it was her husband Adam’s connection with the University of Pittsburgh that led to her doctorate.

    Adam holds a BS in Computer Science from Penn State, and an MS from Chadron State and is the IT Manager at the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health. As a Pitt employee, he and his immediate family are eligible for the University of Pittsburgh reduction in fees.

    That reduction is substantial, Staci had a 90% reduction in tuition and fees for her first six credits, then took a position as a student researcher/assistant for the other half to be covered. Her hard-earned doctorate came at just 10% cost compared to a regular student outside the Pitt system.

    So, she began a doctorate with the following thesis in mind, “Factors Associated with Obstructive Sleep Apnea Evaluation in At-Risk Patients Generally and in the Perianesthesia Setting Specifically.” Try saying that three times.

    In an interesting and fortuitous twist, the COVID-19 pandemic worked in her favor.

    With Jayne at three years old and Norah just a year, Staci began her doctoral studies.

    Because of COVID, the University of Pittsburgh went completely online. It began with its undergraduate studies but extended to post-graduate work as well.

    Staci completed most of her doctoral study in an online setting while continuing to work at UPMC as a nurse and a GSA/GSR.

    As a guy who obtained one of the very first distance-based master’s degrees way back in 1996, the modern method is incredible.

    Staci and Adam set up an office for her in their basement on Ann Drive in North Huntington and I was privileged to listen in on many classes, conferences, and meetings Staci held with her instructors, advisors, and cohorts as the little girls played quietly in another section of the house. It was inspirational to witness.

    While the classwork was online, when it came time to research and obtain data for her dissertation, Staci rolled back to her contacts at Excela Health and gathered 60+ sets of data from surgical patients who had been screened as at risk for sleep apnea.

    It was arduous, frustrating, and at times infuriating as Staci steadily plodded towards the magic statistical set of 60 responses. I wouldn’t expect anything less from her than dogged diligence to a task.

    I found the medical aspects of her research a bit bewildering, I’m not a medical guy, and beyond diagnosing sports injuries I’m way out of my league, but I am a fan of statistics.

    As a late arrival to the teacher curriculum at UW, I chose to take “real” statistics classes rather than Ed Stats to fulfill my degree requirements. When Staci talked about standard deviations, data sets, and median points I was in my bailiwick, and I loved hearing about it.

    So now we have a doctor in the family.

    As a little girl, we often called Staci, “Dolly Dingles” after the children’s book. Now we tease her with Dr. Dolly, or Dr. Dingles, but aside from the banter, what she has accomplished is nothing short of extraordinary.

    She now enters an internship with the Veterans Administration. I can’t help but think how my late dad and her grandfather would be so proud of his granddaughter as a veteran and a man who suffered from sleep apnea.

    Life hasn’t been easy for my little girl. She was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at 15 and has taken the challenge of diabetes in stride, never playing the “Diabetes Card” as she calls it, and working through the lows and highs that diabetics suffer with style and grace.

    What can I say, I’m proud of my little girl, though she hasn’t been physically a little girl for a long time, she remains so with her dad.

    Staci, you are amazing.


    Related Posts

    Have a news tip or an awesome photo to share?