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Greetings from the Dean

This year began amid heightened concern and renewed hope surrounding the pandemic that became a way of life in 2020. Celebratory holiday gatherings fueled a new peak in infections just as the first vaccines become available. 

As many Cizik School of Nursing at UTHealth faculty members and students treated severely ill patients in ICUs, others wasted no time in stepping forward to administer some of the first COVID-19 vaccinations. They volunteered over the winter break to immunize members of the UTHealth community. Soon, UTHealth was designated by the state as a hub for communitywide vaccinations, and our Simulation and Clinical Performance Laboratory offered special sessions on administering COVID-19 vaccines. Not only did our faculty and students mobilize to give the shots, our staff volunteered as navigators to help out at the Cooley University Life Center, where we vaccinated over 1,000 people a day. 

Meanwhile, we continued to adapt to this new educational environment and found innovative ways to prepare our students for their nursing careers. The dedicated educational unit we developed alongside our clinical partners at Memorial Hermann – Texas Medical Center has benefited students who earn clinical hours, staff nurses who welcome their help, and patients who gain more human interaction at a time when family members cannot visit. 

We continue to make significant progress toward addressing issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion through research into issues like food insecurity and youth homelessness, and through community health nursing assignments like clinical rotations helping at-risk teens at the Carson Parke residential facility. We have also demonstrated our commitment to creating an environment where the contributions of our diverse students, faculty, and staff can take root and grow into rewarding careers, meaningful research, and improvements in health care delivery. Leading these efforts is Professor Elda Ramirez, PhD, RN, ENP-C, our newly appointed Assistant Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. 

In addition, this first online-only edition of our Cizik Nursing magazine includes updates on our advancements in research, recent faculty honors and accomplishments, and current students and alumni of our highly ranked Doctor of Nursing Practice program who are leading health care in a variety of ways. 

We all will continue to deal with many concerns as we navigate our way through 2021. At Cizik School of Nursing, we will do so with hope – a well-founded hope that we see each time we watch a student deliver a COVID-19 vaccination or make a connection with a child facing severe challenges, a hope that reveals itself in the groundbreaking work of our nurse scientists, and a hope that manifests itself in the high-quality care we deliver to our community.


Diane Santa Maria, DrPH, MSN, RN, FAAN
The Jane and Robert Cizik Distinguished Chair
Huffington Foundation Endowed Chair in Nursing Education Leadership