By Rosanne Fohn
|At the Nursing Advisory Council (NAC) luncheon are (left to right) Ed Kelley, chair of the Health Science Center’s Development Board; Dean Eileen T. Breslin, Ph.D., RN, FAAN; UT System Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D.; NAC chair Nancy Loeffler; and President William L. Henrich, M.D., MACP
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Nursing Advisory Council (NAC) members and guests learned about the personal impact nurses can have in education, research and patient care from University of Texas System Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., the keynote speaker at the NAC’s annual spring luncheon.
The NAC supports the School of Nursing at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio. This year’s luncheon raised more than $20,000 for student scholarships for the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) Class of Fall 2014, and $18,455 for four faculty research grants and scholarships.
At the start of the program, President William L. Henrich, M.D., said, “The Nursing Advisory Council plays a strong role in the achievements of the School of Nursing. We are very grateful for the NAC’s continuing support of our nursing programs.”
President Henrich also announced that School of Nursing Dean Eileen T. Breslin, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, was installed in March as president of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing
, the national voice for university and four-year college education programs in nursing. “We are proud of your national leadership, Dr. Breslin, and look for good things to come to the Health Science Center from you having your finger on the pulse of national nursing education,” he said.Community support
Dr. Breslin thanked longtime supporters, including Dean Emeritus Patty Hawken, Ph.D., who initiated the NAC in 1983. The dean also acknowledged community partners Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas and University Health System that helped fund the creation of the school’s Center for Simulation Innovation.
Dr. Breslin also acknowledged Veterans Hospital and Methodist Healthcare System, which have partnered with the School of Nursing on Dedicated Education Units — clinical models used to educate nursing students for the future. “Those clinical units actually become the classroom for our students, and through this experience they get a real-world picture of what it’s like to become a nurse. The students get to become a part of the fabric of those hospitals and they later become excellent employees,” she said.
Nurses model excellence in education, research and practice
|Some of the School of Nursing faculty members attending the luncheon were (left to right) Martha Martinez, M.S.N., RN; Socorro Escandon, Ph.D., RN.; Herlinda Zamora, M.S., RN; Janna Lesser, Ph.D., RN; Carole White, Ph.D., RN; Azizeh Sowan, Ph.D., RN; Kathleen Reeves, M.S.N., RN; Brenda Jackson, Ph.D., RN; Julie Novak, D.N.Sc.; RN; CPNP, FAANP, FAAN; Judy Maltas, M.S.N., RN; and Adelita Cantu, Ph.D., RN.
In his keynote address, Dr. Cigarroa, recalled several significant nurses and the important roles they played in his life as a prospective medical student, medical intern, cancer patient and transplant surgeon.
As a youth, he shadowed a triage nurse during the summers at Mercy Hospital in Laredo and saw how her expert evaluations of incoming patients set the tone for emergency care. “That was a busy place,” he said. “She showed me first-hand what happens in a trauma center.”
Dr. Cigarroa said he valued the knowledge and guidance he gained from the senior nurses at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston when he was a surgical intensive care unit intern.
He noted the excellent care he received at the same hospital later as a cancer patient, shortly after his internship. “The nurses wanted to learn about me, my family and my aspirations. They were able to make a very stressful time one that made me a better person,” he said, referring to their caring and compassionate approach that he has used with his patients ever since.
Later, at Johns Hopkins Hospital, he cared for “the very sickest children in the world." These were children with end-stage liver disease. “A nurse practitioner named Barbara Wise and I developed many of the critical clinical pathways for successful outcomes in patients,” he said.
Dr. Cigarroa mentioned Melinda Gonzalez, a Johns Hopkins adult-transplant nurse. “We became like family, as she would be the first to call me when her keen clinical eye and instincts felt something was off. We saved countless lives together.”
Two other nurses stood out for Dr. Cigarroa from his early years as a UT Health Science Center faculty member and transplant surgeon at University Transplant Center, a partnership of the University Health System and UT Health Science Center. “Katherine and Barbara were two nurses who helped me create the pediatric surgical program and liver transplant program,” he said.
“It was Katherine who told me I needed to devote significant time to the parents of the transplant patients, because many of them were getting divorced. Either the mother or dad was devoting all of their attention to the sick child and was letting everything else around them just fall apart. We started a program focused on the health and social well-being of the families. After that, many more marriages survived. When a marriage falls apart and mom and dad are separated, that impacts the outcome for the child, so the overall program became much more successful because of this,” he said.
Dr. Cigarroa closed his talk by saying that he is looking forward to returning to the Health Science Center as head of pediatric transplant surgery once his replacement as chancellor is found. Appreciative scholarship recipient
Also at the luncheon, Accelerated B.S.N. Program nursing student Kirsten Furl, who received a scholarship in 2013, thanked the NAC for its support. “I’m not your traditional nursing student. I previously earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree and worked as a librarian for several years before realizing that I wasn’t reaching my full potential. I wanted a career that would challenge me emotionally and mentally. My mom and sister are both nurses. I was so envious of their after-work stories of the amazing interactions they had with their patients. They had a chance to serve people, to heal them and to touch their lives just by showing up at work,” Furl said.
“My decision to follow in their footsteps was cemented when I had my first child. He was delivered by a nurse midwife and she and the nurses who cared for me during my delivery were nothing short of amazing,” she said.
The NAC scholarship has allowed Furl to focus on school rather than on several part-time jobs to make ends meet, and allowed her the opportunity to provide excellent child care for her and her husband’s two children.
“Please know that your gift is an investment. I hope to advance my career and serve this city and community as a family nurse practitioner working with underserved populations — either the elderly or teenage mothers. I will work my hardest to honor your donation. Thank you so much for entrusting your gift to me and for so generously supporting nursing education,” Furl said.Building faculty success
Four faculty members were recognized at the luncheon for receiving NAC scholarships to further their education or support research. They include:
- James Cleveland, M.S.N., RN, clinical assistant professor of health restoration and care systems management, who is pursuing his Ph.D. at Texas State University;
- Herlinda Zamora, M.S., RN, clinical assistant professor of health restoration and care systems management, who is earning her Ph.D., at the University of Texas at Austin;
- Adelita Cantu, Ph.D., M.S., RN assistant professor of family and community health systems, who is conducting a research project titled, “Giving Voice to Environmental Health Through Community-Based Art;” and
- Frank Puga, Ph.D. , assistant professor of research in health restoration and care systems management, who is conducting a project titled, “Medical Missions Team Performance for Patient Safety.”