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From the Dean


We often speak of the “nursing journey.” The vast and varied options within the profession mean no two nursing journeys are exactly alike. At Cizik School of Nursing at UTHealth Houston, we pride ourselves on opening new paths and leading the way. In this issue of Cizik Nursing, you will read many examples of groundbreaking innovations in nursing education, practice, and research.

On the undergraduate level, our Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program was ranked No. 1 in Texas and tied for 16th nationally in the 2024 U.S. News & World Report ranking of more than 650 nursing schools. Our students not only learn from our exceptional faculty, they gain unmatched clinical experiences and opportunities for interprofessional collaboration.

On the graduate level, our psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioner students benefit from unparalleled clinical opportunities at the new John S. Dunn Behavioral Sciences Center at UTHealth Houston, part of the largest academic mental health hospital in the nation. Also, our highly respected nurse anesthesia program just moved into a new state-of-the-art simulation lab where students can learn concepts in the classroom and then practice them in a simulated operating room with the latest high-tech manikin.

We are also pioneering ways to support practicing nurses as preceptors and by offering specialized continuing education opportunities. The new self-paced cardiovascular advanced practice series prepares nurse practitioners and physician assistants to take the new Certified Cardiovascular Knowledge Examination, which the American College of Cardiology® will begin offering in November.

Regardless of where our students are in their nursing journey, they must master evolving technology in every aspect of their work. That’s why, beginning in the Fall 2023 semester, we began integrating the Epic electronic health record system throughout our curriculum and into our simulation center. Meanwhile, faculty members Mahrokh “Mitzy” Kobeissi, DNP, FNP-C, and Martina Gallagher, PhD, PMHNP-C, are leading national initiatives to establish guidelines for telehealth.

Technology is also interwoven into the school’s growing areas of research. For example, Seema Aggarwal, PhD, AGCNP-C, is testing use of a virtual reality gaming system to deliver outpatient stroke rehabilitation; Carina Katigbak, PhD, ANP-BC, is leading two technology-related studies in our Smart Apartment; and Emily Barr, PhD, CPNP-PC, is using her second Texas Development Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) grant to study providing home testing kits for sexually transmitted infections to youth living with HIV and exploring ways to facilitate participation in telehealth visits.

As with technology, public policy cannot be separated from health care. As health care professionals, we can and should influence policy — from health care systems to the U.S. Congress. UTHealth Houston’s current Quality Enhancement Project educates students at all six schools about health care policy and emphasizes the importance of engaging in the policymaking process. We are weaving health policy issues throughout our curriculum and challenging our students in thought-provoking interprofessional simulations that teach them what it’s like to be a struggling single parent, or a lawmaker working to improve health care access and equity.

These are just a few examples of how our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and supporters are paving the way for the future of nursing and health care. It is my great privilege to work with this group of outstanding leaders as we educate and inspire the next generation of nurses and nurse scientists.

Diane Santa Maria, DrPH, MSN, RN, PHNA-BC, ACRN, FSAHM, FAAN
The Jane and Robert Cizik Distinguished Chair
Huffington Foundation Endowed Chair in Nursing Education Leadership
Cizik School of Nursing at UTHealth Houston

Our Successful Students (Fall 2021 – Summer 2022)



Degrees conferred

396 BSN
199 MSN
67 DNP
4 PhD

First-time pass rates 2022

BSN – 91.55% NCLEX