Scott Rhoades M’06

Scott Rhoades M’06 is founder and program developer of the Patricia Hilliard Robertson Center for Aviation Medicine at the Indiana Regional Medical Center (IRMC), named in honor of Indiana County native Patricia Hilliard Robertson ’85. 

The Hilliard Robertson Center for Aviation Medicine opened on January 15, 2007. Operated by IRMC’s Occupational Health Department, the center is staffed by a team of clinical secretaries, nurses, and an FAA-certified aviation medical examiner and provides pilots and aircrews access to FAA- or corporate-required flight physicals and health education. The program initially offers FAA Class 2 and Class 3 flight physicals.

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Front, from left: Dr. Anthony Sico, D.O., A.M.E., Director of Occupational Health and the Aviation Medicine Program; Scott Rhoades, M.S., R.N., Program Developer, Health Services Medical Officer–United States Air Force Auxiliary
Back, from left: Ms. Sherry Tyger, B.S.N., R.N., Occupational Health Coordinator; Dr. Bruce Bush, M.D., V.P. of Medical Affairs–Indiana Regional Medical Center; Mrs. Ilse Hilliard, mother of deceased astronaut Patricia Hilliard Robertson, M.D.


Patricia Hilliard Robertson, M.D., served as a flight instructor and family physician in Erie, Pa., before joining NASA in 1997, where she was later selected to join the astronaut program. She made significant contributions in the areas of aviation and aerospace medicine through clinical practice and research. Dr. Robertson perished on May 24, 2001, from injuries sustained in a plane crash in Manvel, Texas.

Members of the aviation community and guests will take part in an open house and program dedication later this spring.

In the summer of 2005, Rhoades participated in a graduate internship at NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center in the summer of 2005. The internship included experience in occupational health, aerospace medicine, environmental health, and EMS/fire/public safety. The internship was sponsored by NASA, Comprehensive Health Services, Inc., and IUP’s Department of Nursing and Allied Health Professions.

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Right: Rhoades is fitted for a SCAPE (Self-Contained Atmospheric Protective Ensemble) suit, which included an internal communications system.


Rhoades, who works at the Indiana Regional Medical Center, also serves as a consultant to NASA’s medical operations and published an article in a nursing journal promoting the role of the nurse in the space program.

“While there are many reasons I am where I am today,” said Rhoades, “I contribute some of my work in aerospace nursing to IUP alumna and deceased astronaut Dr. Patricia Hilliard Robertson, who encouraged and challenged me to continue in this area of interest.”

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Rhoades visits with NASA Aerospace Nurses Pam Miles (middle) and Cathy DiBiase (right) in the aerospace medicine office.

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The medical triage van, supplied and ready for operation.

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Rhoades receives training for qualification in SCAPE suit operation. Training included retrieving small items (such as a quarter) from the floor while keeping the integrity of the suit intact.

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The Space Shuttle Discovery during rollback from the launch pad to the vehicle assembly building for changeout of external tanks.

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An amphibious rescue vehicle positioned for response.

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Rhoades and Kathy Sigurbjartsson, a NASA occupational health nurse, qualify in SCAPE suits.

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Rhoades presents Nashat Zuraikat, IUP graduate nursing program coordinator (left), and Michelle Gerwick ’82, M’88, chair of the Department of Nursing and Allied Health Professions, with an autographed crew photo and patch from the Space Shuttle Discovery STS-114 “Return to Flight” mission, which was the mission in preparation during his internship. The gift was presented to the department’s faculty and staff members for co-sponsoring the experience.

In 2001, Scott attended the induction ceremony of the Zeta Lambda chapter of Sigma Theta Tau (the IUP Nursing honor society).

January, 2007