Welcome to the School of Nursing's News!

SON News Articles

The combination of Dr. Kathleen Murphy's professional experiences, education, and passion for equity and inclusion have uniquely prepared her for her new role at the UTMB School of Nursing.

Dr. Murphy joined the UTMB School of Nursing faculty in 2012 as administrator of the Executive Nurse Leader Track in the Department of Graduate Studies. However, leaders and peers quickly recognized that her training, leadership, and passion for equity and inclusion is threaded through all she does, both personally and professionally. She now serves as Associate Dean for Inclusivity, Global Health & Community Engagement and holds the Alice O. Stubblefield Professorship in Nursing.

Trained as a nurse practitioner and currently a board-certified, advanced nurse executive, Dr. Murphy has an extensive background in family, school, and public/community health issues, particularly among historically excluded populations. She has served the community in a variety of clinical and leadership roles locally, regionally and internationally. She is an alumna of the prestigious Robert Wood Johnson Executive Nurse Fellowship (2004-07) and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing (FAAN).

I feel enthusiastic and grateful to be in this role, says Murphy. I grew up in a family that instilled and lived the values of compassion, community and to whom much is given, much is required --values I have carried throughout my life and into this role. They are a constant reminder of her purpose.

She recognizes the positionality of privilege and it's significant opportunities, and is committed to ensuring that historically excluded or underserved persons have opportunity equity. She understands that her position as a nurse and a leader can shine a bright light on inclusion and equity issues in healthcare, policy, and education.

The role of true equity and inclusion work is not a checklist. Trying one's best to live by these principles daily demonstrates a personal commitment that extends to the professional domain. It is not a title in a signature, it is about the actions you take, says Murphy. We live in the most diverse metropolitan area in the country, and we must commit to employing and educating a work force whose diversity mirrors the populations we serve.

In addition to this role, Dr. Murphy is currently searching for an Assistant Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) to increase the school's capacity to support this priority and DEI initiatives.

We must allocate necessary and sufficient resources to equity. We need to truly instill a culture of inclusion… it has to be something we look at every single day: through committees you serve on, the language you use, reframing terms and concepts to students, ensuring holistic admission practices, using implicit bias checklists on curriculum, etc. The Assistant Dean will serve as a change agent, thought-leader, influencer and subject matter expert on diversity, equity and inclusion related issues.

When asked about how this work seems to ebb and flow depending on the political and social climates, Murphy responded with a strong desire to keep going. The challenges in moving this work forward are nothing compared to the challenges of those who have been most adversely affected by exclusion and inequity.

Murphy also leans on research to demonstrate why diversity is important for team success.

The most diverse teams are the nimblest teams, Murphy said. These teams are more likely to respond quickly, hear divergent opinions, participate in constructive conflicts, have robust discussions, that ultimately lead to better outcomes in the workplace. Without diversity, we won't be on the leading edge of where we need to be.

If anything has taught us that we need to be flexible, adaptable and nimble, it's the last year, she said. But on top of the pandemic, creating a diverse team is just the right thing to do.

I have no doubt that Dr. Murphy is the right person for this role, says Dean Deborah J. Jones. Her vision will continue to guide our school and community in the right direction. She advances strategic partnerships locally, nationally, and internationally, constantly applies an equity framework and pursues opportunities to implement innovative solutions to health disparities. We appreciate her leadership and strong guidance for our school.

University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston School of Nursing Dean Deborah J. Jones, PhD, MSN, RN, has appointed faculty member Elizabeth (Liz) Petitt, DNP, APRN, to a new role as Director of the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Program.

Petitt is currently an assistant professor in the nursing school's Department of Graduate Studies. She succeeds Maureen Wilder, DNP, RN, who is retiring after 40 years of service at UTMB.

Petitt will lead a program ranked by U.S. News and World Report at #17 out of 173 graduate nursing schools in its 2021 survey of Best Online Master's in Nursing Programs. UTMB School of Nursing also is listed at #14 in Best Online Family Nurse Practitioner Master's Programs and #6 in Best Online Master's in Nursing Programs for Veterans (up from #10 the previous year).

Drs. Wilder and Petitt will work closely to facilitate a smooth transition, said Dean Deborah J. Jones. Dr. Petitt's background, experience, passion, and enthusiasm will be great assets as a leader for our MSN Program.

Petitt has worked at UTMB for 30 years, 29 of those in health care and nursing. She is an alumna of UTMB, having earned both her MSN (2008) and BSN (1999) degrees from the School of Nursing. She earned her Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where she was named the outstanding DNP student in her class in 2018.

Petitt's clinical expertise is as a Dermatology Nurse Practitioner. Her research interests include skin cancer prevention and sun protective behaviors, as well as health promotion and disease prevention. As a faculty member, Petitt is engaged in creating dermatology content, lectures, skills, case studies, and test items within the MSN curriculum. She will continue to teach and lead our seven different MSN tracks.

Jill Bryant-Bova
Jill Bryant-Bova

Jill Bryant–Bova wants to be a leader in health care. That desire has motivated her not only to pursue advanced nursing degrees, but to seek opportunities where she can apply both her leadership skills and her passion for service.

A graduate of the MSN Executive Nurse Leader program and current DNP student at UTMB School of Nursing, she recently served as a lead supervisory nurse for a COVID-19 vaccination site in Buffalo, NY, as a member of the Texas–3 Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT).

The Texas–3 DMAT is a branch of the National Disaster Medical System, which is part of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. The team deploys to locations across the United States to fulfill a wide variety of medical needs as they arise, from natural disasters to major special events.

During her deployment to Buffalo, Bryant–Bova worked 12- to 13-hour shifts every day, overseeing vaccinators who administered first and second doses of the Pfizer vaccine to community members. She also helped distribute and administer vaccinations herself. In the end, the team was responsible for more than 10,000 vaccinations over two weeks, with Bryant-Bova working about 180 hours in that period.

It's fulfilling to go out there and work, Bryant–Bova said. You are out there to help people – that's what it's all about.

Jill Bryant-Bova

Bryant–Bova credits both the UTMB Executive Nurse Leader and the Doctor of Nursing Practice programs for providing the foundational knowledge she needed to lead in these deployments – from leadership skills to the importance of good communication with the individuals being vaccinated, some of whom were nervous and needed reassurance.

I love talking to people, so it was nice being able to talk to so many people and relate to them. They were so thankful and appreciative of what we were doing., she said. We had great conversations.

The deployment to Buffalo is only the latest for Bryant–Bova, who works at UTMB as a Senior Quality Management Specialist and is president of the SON Alumni Association. She has been a part of the Texas–3 DMAT since 2003, and her deployments have included the Hurricane Katrina response in New Orleans, the funeral of former President George H.W. Bush, and the second inauguration of former President Barack Obama, to name a few.

Bryant–Bova says she is proud of her membership in the Texas–3 DMAT and the work she has done in her deployments. The School of Nursing is honored to count her among our alumni and current students. 

Ashley Salazar
Ashley Salazar

UTMB School of Nursing is known for its many distinctions as "first" – and now, doctoral student Ashley Salazar continues the legacy with a first of her own. She is the first student not only from the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program, but from the SON as a whole, selected to participate in UTMB's Institute for Translational Sciences (ITS) TL1 Training Program.

The ITS is UTMB's CTSA hub, which brings multidisciplinary teams together to advance translational research through team-based science.

The TL1 program engages trainees and scholars in a curriculum specifically designed to develop key interprofessional, multidisciplinary team-based translational science competencies. Only three postdoctoral and three predoctoral students are selected annually to participate in the one-year program, funded by the Clinical Translational Science Award (CTSA).

When I decided to go back to obtain my DNP, I saw such an opportunity to bridge clinical practice and research, and gain more research knowledge, Salazar said. I learned there is not a model in place for DNP and PhD nurses to collaborate and work together, although it is a big goal. I wanted to figure out how I can bridge this gap.

As an employee in UTMB's Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Salazar has worked in many different roles – as a nurse coordinator, a nurse practitioner providing patient care, and doing investigator work with mentors like Dr. George Saade, Chief of Maternal Fetal Medicine, in the Division of Perinatal Research. She has seen effective collaboration between clinicians and researchers in medicine, and her experience sparked an interest in exploring this dynamic in nursing.

Supported by DNP Program Director Dr. Linda Rounds, Salazar met with others at UTMB, including Chief Research Officer and ITS Director Dr. Randy Urban, to learn about opportunities to connect clinical practice and research in nursing.

Although nursing is not currently well represented in the ITS, Dr. Urban expressed that expanding interprofessional participation would be beneficial. Identifying the TL1 Training Program as a potential entry point to explore this work, Salazar met with TL1 Program Director Dr. Mark Hellmich to discuss the opportunity.

Selected for the one-year program, Salazar will begin her work in January. Her plan is to work on models for DNP and PhD collaboration using some of the existing paradigms the CTSA has already begun to develop for interprofessional collaboration.

The whole idea behind the CTSA is that the work is done through multidisciplinary teams to produce and translate ideas faster, Salazar said. From the clinician side, it's an opportunity to learn more about working with a team for the purpose of bridging nursing science, establishing and utilizing some of the models the CTSA is already working with.

Please join us in congratulating Ashley Salazar on this tremendous opportunity! We are proud of her commitment to advancing nursing science and excited for what she will accomplish as a TL1 trainee.

With a wide variety of disciplines represented on campus, opportunities for interprofessional education (IPE) at UTMB are endless. But as the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way group activities can be held, educators have gone the extra mile to keep interprofessional training from falling by the wayside.

Dr. Chris Edwards, Dr. Roy Trahan, and Mrs. Morgan Cangelosi, faculty at the School of Nursing (SON), recently led an IPE activity for BSN students in their Adult III class, in collaboration with the School of Health Professions' Department of Respiratory Care. The goal was to familiarize BSN students with aspects of respiratory care encountered in critical care areas, such as non-invasive and invasive ventilation, airways, and oxygen delivery.

In the fall, we started working with Respiratory Therapy to create an IPE activity between the two schools, Edwards said. It gives the RT students, with a faculty member present, the opportunity to practice teaching about ventilators, and it allows our students to see the various ventilators before going into the clinical setting. It also reinforces material from lectures.

Ms. Melissa Yanes, Director of Clinical Education in the Department of Respiratory Care, was the department's lead on the activity. This activity helps our students build on their communication skills and allows them to share their knowledge and experience with nursing students, she said.

Under normal circumstances, the Respiratory Care students would rotate through senior nursing class simulation activities. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, however, group size and time constraints forced the faculty members to think creatively in order to preserve this learning opportunity. They came up with a plan that allowed just as many students to participate, while prioritizing social distancing and safety.

Twelve students of the 119 enrolled in the final senior nursing semester visited campus to participate in person, while the remainder did so remotely. Meanwhile, 21 senior-level Respiratory Care students served as facilitators, demonstrating the use of respiratory care equipment with simulated patients. Using their iPads, the nursing students walked through the stations and broadcast the activities to their classmates, who were connected via Zoom in breakout rooms.

Students could still interact with RT students, RT faculty, and SON faculty to get clarification on concepts or to even ask for a different view. We also had an MSN nurse education student and a BSN-PhD education student there helping us, so they could get their teaching time for the various Education Tracks, Edwards said.

Amy Hughes Childs, who will graduate with her master's degree with specialization in the nurse educator role in December, appreciated the hybrid online/in-person format and the opportunities it presented to her as a future educator. She also felt encouraged by the students' level of engagement.

As a nurse educator, activities like this are extremely beneficial to future endeavors. With the current pandemic situation and the actual unknown, being able to think out of the box and deliver quality education is exceptional, she said. The steps are being made to keep everyone connected to ensure delivery of high-quality education and advanced training.

Ms. Yanes and Dr. Jose Rojas, department chair, said that the Respiratory Care participants also benefited from being challenged to teach both in-person and remote learners effectively. Rojas likened the experience to what patients must navigate as telemedicine encounters become more prevalent.

Many of our educational meetings are now being held virtually, and the nursing and respiratory care collaborative provided an opportunity to experiment with various technologies available. (It gave us) a good practical experience in advantages and limitations of the technologies, Rojas said.

SON Shout Outs

Dr. Verklan

​Congratulations on being selected as a committee member for the American Association of Critical Care Nurses 2021 Acute and Critical Care Clinical Nurse Specialist Practice Analysis Task Force to review the roles/responsibilities of the critical care CNS.​

Congratulations to our Nursing PhD students for receiving the following awards: Emily Blumenthal, Doctoral Program of the School of Nursing Scholarship; Angela Mcgaskey, J. Michael Leger, PhD, RN Family Nursing PhD Scholarship; Keili Peterman, Lois E. Nickerson, R.N. Endowed Scholarship; Emily Blumenthal, Mariann Blum, Ph.D. Endowed Presidential Scholarship; Lisa Letz, Marie and Talbert Aulds Scholarship; Megan Steele, Michael Tacheeni Scott Endowed Scholarship; Colleen Villamin, Regina R. and Alfonso J. Mercatante Memorial Scholarship; and Lisa Wagner, SON Alumni Assoc. Fund

Lisa Wagner

Congratuations to Ms. Lisa Wagner on the successful defense of her dissertation titled Planting Seeds: A Naturalistic Inquiry into the Perceptions and Experiences of WIC Peer Counselors as they Interact with Mothers Making their Infant Feeding Decisions.

Dr. Cheyenne Martin

Presented the Sr. Charles Marie Endowed Lecture (virtually) at Incarnate Word University, San Antonio titled Profiles in Courage: An Exploration of Nurses and Physicians Engaged in Resistance Efforts in Europe During Nazi Occupation. This special lecture was given after evacuation from Tropical Storm Beta and severe rainstorms in Wharton.

Dr. Virginia Chandlee

Congratuations on the successfull defense of her dissertation titled, An Exploratory Study of Pediatric Oncology Nurses' Perceptions of and Advocacy Responses to Ethical Issues in Securing Informed Consent in Adolescent and Young Adult Patients..