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From the Dean


The Department of Research at Cizik School of Nursing at UTHealth Houston is growing briskly, fueled by a substantial increase in projects funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other public and private organizations. With more than $5.3 million in NIH grants in 2023, our ranking among nursing schools that receive NIH funding rose 20 positions to No. 18 nationally. Along with those funds come additional faculty and staff who are passionate about improving the lives of patients, families, and communities.

So, what is nursing science? It’s a wide field of research rooted in the connections nurses make with their patients. At Cizik School of Nursing, nurse scientists are exploring everything from a nonpharmaceutical pain management approach based on traditional Chinese medicine to virtual reality gaming applications designed for health education and disease management.

In this issue of Cizik Nursing, three of our recent PhD graduates share what nursing science means to them and how they are applying what they have learned in academic, government, and private-sector roles. In addition, three current PhD students share their perspectives and the reasons they chose Cizik School of Nursing as part of a new social media video series.

My personal research interests include HIV prevention, and I am encouraged by the progress our faculty, UTHealth Houston colleagues, and other Gulf Coast-area researchers are making toward  ending the HIV epidemic. Our nurse scientists are also continuing to make progress on research related to stroke, cancer, and aging among other topics. One of our newer faculty members, Carolyn Pickering, PhD, RN, is a noted expert in dementia family caregiving and delivered the most recent Carla Diaz-Lewis Domestic Violence Lecture.

Nurses excel at translational science, or putting research findings into practice. That’s just what alumna Carla Patel, DNP, APRN, ACNP-BC, RNFA, is doing at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. As associate director for evidence-based practice, she leverages the work of in-house researchers and other nurse scientists to provide educational opportunities for nursing professionals at that highly respected institution.

The innovations at Cizik School of Nursing are by no means limited to the Department of Research. In October, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies Erica Yu, PhD, RN, and Vice Dean for Academic Affairs Cathy L. Rozmus, PhD, RN, FNAP, FAAN, traveled to Washington, D.C., to accept the prestigious 2023 New Era for Academic Nursing Award from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. The award recognized a long list of projects that have grown out of weekly virtual meetings of faculty and nursing leadership at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center aimed at brainstorming ways to support nursing workforce development and practice. In this issue, you may also read about an undergraduate elective that gives top students the opportunity learn about rehab nursing inside the world-renowned TIRR Memorial Hermann.

On the practice side, we are spreading the word about UT Health Services, our nurse-managed clinic that provides occupational health services to employers and primary care to individual patients. Last year, the clinic moved to a new location in the Texas Medical Center, and the team just launched a new and improved website.

These examples of growth and advancement are a testament to the contagious energy and commitment of our incredible faculty and staff. With many other great ideas and projects in the pipeline, 2024 promises to be another dynamic and productive year at Cizik School of Nursing.

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