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Greetings from the Dean

Just a few months ago, the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering and the National Academy of Medicine published the landmark report “The Future of Nursing 2020-2030: Charting a Path to Achieve Health Equity.” It struck me that Houston, Texas, represents a microcosm of the health care environment described in the report. We live in one of the most diverse cities in the nation, where we witness the disparities affecting underserved populations every day. As educators at the region’s top-ranked nursing school, we have not only an opportunity but a responsibility to move our health care systems toward positive change.

Our new five-year strategic plan sets out a mission and vision of excellence, innovation, and leadership in advancing and improving health care and health equity. We also cemented our commitment to fostering opportunity for students, faculty, and staff at all levels by establishing a new leadership position. Elda Ramirez, PhD, ENP-C, became our first assistant dean of diversity, equity, and inclusion in November 2020 and is sharing her passion for the cause throughout the entire UTHealth Houston organization.

This year’s magazine is filled with stories that touch on ways Cizik School of Nursing is working to improve health care access and quality for everyone. You will learn about a new Spanish-language stroke awareness acronym developed by our research team, a PhD student exploring coping mechanisms used by older LGBTQ+ patients with regard to health care, the new lecture series on domestic violence endowed by our long-time supporters Carla Diaz-Lewis and Kenneth Lewis, an active-duty Army nurse furthering her education, and a professor emerita who made addiction research her life’s work.

I am particularly excited about opportunities and innovations in psychiatric/mental health nursing in Houston and across our institution. The new John S. Dunn Behavioral Sciences Center, which is set to open soon, will be the largest academic psychiatric hospital in the U.S. The virtual reality goggles displayed on the cover allow student nurses to practice de-escalation techniques aimed at improving nurse safety for inpatient treatment environments. In addition, one of our instructors, who is also working toward her PhD, is studying occupational stress among emergency nurses who witness trauma every day.

We are also adding to our truly amazing team of faculty and staff members. In this issue, you will get to know experienced educators and clinicians who have joined us recently to lead key areas of nursing practice, community outreach, and faculty development.

The challenges facing nurses in the next decade are many and varied, but so are the exceptional students, creative and dedicated staff members, and incomparable faculty members at Cizik School of Nursing. By learning from one another and building on the strengths and joys inherent in diversity, we will improve engagement with those who are hard to reach, meet the needs of underserved communities, better understand the challenges experienced by marginalized groups, and help improve overall health and health care access for all.

Diane Santa Maria, DrPH, RN, PHNA-BC, FSAHM, FAAN

The Jane and Robert Cizik Distinguished Chair
Huffington Foundation Endowed Chair in Nursing Education Leadership

Improve the health and well-being of our diverse community by preparing tomorrow’s leaders to drive innovation and excellence in nursing education, practice, and scientific discovery

To lead the advancement of health and high-quality health care for all