Meet the Faculty

Meet the Faculty

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Your success is important to us at Empire College. Read more about the instructors in the Medical department that are here to help you succeed.

Shannon Tinsley
CCMA-AC, Medical Department Head
Read more about Shannon

Education: An Empire graduate herself, Ms. Tinsley brings a love for learning to the classroom. At Yuba College she learned American Sign Language and while attending Santa Rosa Junior College she studied various topics included Cardiac Telemetry and Nutrition, as well as general education courses. In 2003, she completed courses with Family Health Services in San Diego to obtain a phlebotomy certification.

Certifications: California Certified Medical Assistant since 1994, Nationally Certified Phlebotomy Technician since 2003, Certified Instructor for the American Red Cross

Professional Experience: After working part time in a pharmacy setting, Ms. Tinsley decided to begin working in medical offices to have more direct patient contact. Her office experience ranges from Family Medicine to Allergy and Cardiology. She also managed a board-and-care facility with four residents for many years.

Memberships: Ms. Tinsley is a past state president for the California Medical Assistants Association and has been a state officer for 13 years. She is very active on both a statewide and local level. She is also a member of CAHCE, California Association of Health Career Educators.

Professional Affiliations: American Heart Association Executive Leadership Team 2011, California Certifying Board for Medical Assistants (CCBMA) test committee, Chairman and Facilitator of the Sonoma County Flu Task Force.

History at Empire College: Ms. Tinsley began working at Empire as a teacher's assistant in April 1994. She was brought on full time in October that same year as a Medical Assisting Instructor and Externship Coordinator.

Megan Chieppa
Read more about Megan

Education: Ms. Chieppa completed a Specialized Associate degree in the field of Medical Assisting at Empire College, as well as the Clinical Medical Assistant program, and is a certified Administrative and Clinical Medical Assistant.

Certifications: California State Phlebotomy License, California Certified Medical Assistant – Administrative and Clinical, and California State Manicurist License

Professional Experience: Ms. Chieppa began her career in the medical field in 2003 as a Phlebotomist for Unilab, which later became LabCorp. In 2006, Ms. Chieppa joined the Sutter Medical Foundation as a Medical Assistant performing administrative and clinical duties. In 2007, Ms. Chieppa was recruited by Empire College to assist in teaching a phlebotomy class. She became a full-time instructor in Empire College's Medical department in October 2007.

Memberships: Current member of the California Medical Assistants Association and has held official positions within the organization.

History at Empire College: Ms. Chieppa has been teaching at Empire College since 2007, starting in a part-time position and moving into a full-time, split-shift clinical instructor position. Ms. Chieppa is currently teaching all clinical aspects in both the day and evening school. Ms. Chieppa has taught CPR and First Aid, Pharmacology, Insurance Plans, and Medical Terminology. Ms. Chieppa also assisted in developing Empire College's state approved Phlebotomy program, where she is currently the head instructor.

Mary K. Mullnix
Read more about Mary

Education: In 2009, Ms. Mullnix became a Certified Medical Auditor by passing the CHCA examination given by the Association of Healthcare Auditors and Educators. In 2004, she received her certification with the American Academy of Professional Coders as a CPC (Certified Professional Coder). Ms. Mullnix attended Chabot Junior College, Hayward, from 1978-1980.

Professional Experience: Ms. Mullnix has worked in the medical field for the past 30 years as a Practice Administrator, Office Manager and Billing Manager. She has spent the last 10 years working with the medical community in the establishment of the Sonoma County Chapter of AAPC, for which she served as President in 2010.

Certificates and Memberships: CHCA, CPC and member of Association of Healthcare Auditors and Educators, American Academy of Professional Coders, American Billing Association, Healthcare Billing Management Association

History at Empire College: Ms. Mullnix started with Empire College in 2008 as an adjunct instructor in the evenings teaching in the Medical department. As of 2010, after 10 years as the Billing Manager for Redwood Orthopaedic Surgery Associates, she became a permanent instructor for Empire College. Ms. Mullnix is currently teaching Practice Management, Medical Coding, Insurance Billing, and Ethics and Compliance courses.

Nicole Ruggeri
Read more about Nicole

Education: Ms. Ruggeri is a graduate of Empire College, specializing in the Medical Clinical arena. She completed an accelerated Nutrition program at Bauman College in Penngrove, Calif., leading to certification as a Nutrition Educator (NE).  She specializes in Traditional Chinese Nutrition, which she earned thru the Health & Integral Living Institute in Santa Monica, CA.  As a California Certified Massage Practitioner, she specializes in various modalities including Trigger therapy/Deep tissue, Sports, Oncology, Pregnancy, and Elder massage, Aromatherapy and Level I Acu-Point Therapy.  Nicole has also received training from Dr. Steven Capobianco, D.C. (partnering with Rock Tape) in kinesiology support taping for musculoskeletal injuries and athletic movement.

Certificates: CCMA-C: California Certified Medical Assistant – Clinical, NE: Nutrition Educator, Allied Health Instructor (AHI), BLS/CPR, AED and Heart Saver First Aid: American Heart Association, CMP: Certified Massage Practitioner (CA), Rock-Doc Certified and International Certification of Clinical Aromatherapy.

Professional Experience: Ms. Ruggeri worked as a Back-Office Medical Assistant for one of the largest private urgent care facilities in Sonoma County, now part of the Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation. She also served as the Headquarters Coordinator for the California Medical Assistants Association.  Nicole has coached individuals in choosing healthy nutrition habits and weight loss goals.  She served as a committee member supporting student wellness for the Forestville United School District’s lunch program and had an article showcased in the Press Democrat on How to Help Your Child Eat Healthy.  She volunteers her spare time with a local, non-profit cycling team that focuses on promoting healthy lifestyles, camaraderie, team work and sportsmanship for underprivileged youth.

Memberships: California Medical Assistants Association (CMAA) and American Medical Technologist (AMT) as an Allied Health Instructor (AHI), American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA).

History at Empire College: Ms. Ruggeri started her Empire career in 2004 as a full-time day Lab Assistant, helping students gain hands-on skills. Shortly thereafter, she was asked to step up as a Medical Instructor and began teaching in the day and evening divisions. Nicole has been involved with teaching students in the different stages of their schooling, including Medical Terminology, Medical Office Procedures, Anatomy and Pharmacology, Clinical skills and CPR/First Aid training. In 2009, she took the lead as the Evening Advisor for the Medical Department and helped to serve as a liaison between the night students, Department Head and Medical Manager.  She has also hosted several Weight of the Nation events, bringing health and nutrition awareness to the students, faculty and staff.

Melissa A. Vineyard
RN, B.S., B.A.
Read more about Melissa

Education: Ms. Vineyard received her Associate degree in Nursing from Santa Rosa Junior College and completed her Administrative Residency at Saint Joseph Hospital. She holds a B.S. in Health Services Administration from the University of Nebraska Medical Center and B.A. in Social Welfare from the University of Nebraska.

Licenses: California Registered Nurse

Professional Experience: Ms. Vineyard has 20+ years experience in the fields of healthcare and medicine. She has worked in a variety of medical settings that include large healthcare systems, acute care hospitals, medical clinics, skilled nursing facilities, physical rehab hospitals and home healthcare settings. Her positions have ranged from Medical Assistant and Nurse to Administrator and Director of Nursing, to Independent Contractor and Consultant.

History at Empire College: Ms. Vineyard began working for Empire College in March of 2000. She has taught Medical Terminology, Anatomy and Physiology, Medical Office Procedures, ICD Coding, and Security Practices.