Patient Resources

Transformational Leadership

At UT Southwestern Medical Center, nurses are paving the way to elevate clinical excellence within our organization and beyond. Each and every day, our nursing teams begin with excellence and consistently aim even higher to fulfill our mission of patient-centric care. Nurses bring vision, influence, compassion, clinical knowledge, and expertise while influencing change throughout our world-class organization. By transforming our culture, nurses have cultivated an environment supportive of patients, families, loved ones, and staff. These values and beliefs shine bright throughout UTSW as we deliver the very best in comprehensive, quality care. UT Southwestern recognizes the leadership capacity of every nurse. Leaders exist at all levels of the organization and are vital to creating and sustaining a transformed culture that supports nursing excellence. As health care continues on its path of rapid change, the UTSW Division of Nursing has developed a solid leadership structure that supports the professional practice of nursing in all settings of the organization.

A Year of Nursing Excellence

Nurses at UT Southwestern are leaders in all areas of practice. Throughout our system, care is provided for each patient within our hospitals and clinics, spanning research, education, administration, and community work. Empowering our nurses and equipping them with the ability to promote good health and well-being throughout each patient’s continuum of care is our top priority. Our nurses lead at every level through direct patient care and beyond, knowing that “excellence is our starting point, not our finish line.”

PACT Awards

The PACT program recognizes employees who exhibit exceptional behaviors that achieve the goal of "excellence in patient care and customer service that we would be proud for our families, friends, and selves to receive." The program provides a way for patients, co-workers, and physicians to recognize the PACT behaviors "on the spot" and is designed to create a culture of praise and recognition.

The PACT program is a campuswide initiative that goes on throughout the year and encourages employees to recognize staff and physicians for their demonstration of PACT standards, which are:

Problem Solving: To achieve excellence in patient care and service, we take ownership for solving problems through innovation and discovery, developing solutions to the satisfaction of patients, customers, or managers.

Ability, Attitude, and Accountability: We adhere to best practices in our daily work, honor the dignity and diversity of each person, and are accountable for our actions. We will appear and conduct ourselves in a professional and positive manner.

Communications and Compassion: All of our communications are open, clear, timely, and delivered with respect and confidentiality. We are sensitive to the physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, and cultural needs of every individual.

Teamwork: We collaborate as one team to deliver patient-centered care with integrity, trust, and confidentiality. We value the exchange of diverse ideas.

Nurse PACT Awards

Nurses across the organization are recognized daily with PACT cards, submitted either electronically or on paper. In 2020, nurses were honored in large numbers for receiving Blue, Silver, and Gold Pin awards:

135 nurses earned the Blue PACT Pin Award

68 nurses earned the Silver PACT Pin Award

101 nurses earned the Gold PACT Pin Award

To nominate a nurse for the PACT award, email

Meritorious Service Awards 2020

UT Southwestern nurses are invaluable. An important part of our culture of excellence is to reward and recognize those who have gone above and beyond in providing excellent service and care to our patients. Meritorious Service Awards are bestowed annually to UT Southwestern staff who have provided extraordinary service and care to our patients and demonstrated an excellent work ethic and performance. These recipients exemplify PACT standards and serve as role models to the campus. Employees are recognized and nominated by patients, families, clinical or departmental staff, or leadership.

The 2020 nurse recipients were:

Kelly Cale, RN
Emergency Department

Elaine Camp, RN

Victoria DeHoyos, RN
CUH 12 Green Med/Surg

Kris Freeburg, RN
Float Pool

Imelda Fuentes, RN
Zale Neuroscience ICU

Rebekah Gandara, RN
Wound Care Clinic

Linnette Godek, RN
CUH 9 Green Cardio/Tele

Tara Griffin, RN
Zale Neuroscience ICU

Christie Hartley, RN
Care Coordination

Sharla Houston, RN
Zale Neuroscience ICU

Pearl Kim, RN
Resuscitation Team

Sunmi Lee, RN
CUH 11 Blue BMT

Madison Mabry, RN

Andrea Manry, RN
Zale Psychiatric Unit

Elma Mendes, RN
Nursing Informatics

James Moreno, RN
Zale Psychiatric Unit

Jamison Newby, RN
CUH OR Imaging Support

Cary Orrick, RN
PI Coordinator

Cassie Parma, RN
Float Pool

Kaitlyn Sanders-Gore, RN

Mariamma Varghese, RN
CUH 10 Green Med/Surg

Jeniz Viera, RN
CUH 10 Blue CV Surg/Thoracic

Jessica Yi, RN
CUH 12 Blue Med/Surg

2020 DAISY Awards

To recognize our amazing nurses in direct patient care, UTSW has partnered with the DAISY Foundation, which established the DAISY (Diseases Attacking the Immune System) Award in memory of J. Patrick Barnes, who died at age 33 of an autoimmune disease. After witnessing the skilled, caring, and compassionate nursing Patrick received, the Barnes Family created this national award as a way to say “thank you” to nurses. Any nurse working at UTSW can be nominated for the DAISY Award.

The award committee selects one nurse each month from a hospital or hospital-based clinic who exemplifies our mission. The recipient receives a DAISY Award pin, a Healer’s Touch hand-carved statue, and an award certificate. In addition, recognizing that excellence takes a team, the selected nurse’s unit receives a banner to post for the month and freshly baked cinnamon rolls for everyone on the day the award is presented.

To nominate a nurse for the Daisy Awards, visit:

The six DAISY honorees from UT Southwestern for 2020 were:

D Magazine 2020 Excellence in Nursing Awards

Each year, D Magazine honors excellence in nursing through an award recognizing nurses who have made a difference in the lives of their patients and colleagues. These nurses are nominated by their peers, co-workers, and patients.

Through a selection committee, winners were recognized in three categories: Education/Research, Leadership, and Direct Care.

UT Southwestern is proud to salute our nine recipients of the 2020 D Magazine Excellence in Nursing Awards. They are:

2020 Dallas-Fort Worth Great 100 Nurses

Dallas-Fort Worth Great 100 recognizes 100 professional registered nurses each year who have been nominated by their peers, practice sites, families, and patients entrusted to their care. Each year, Great 100 honors excellence in the art and science of nursing across all practice areas, including acute care, subacute care, school nursing, nurse leaders, academics, and many more. Over the past 10 years, we have had 26 UT Southwestern nurses celebrated for their contributions to the nursing profession and communities they serve.

In 2020, UT Southwestern was honored to have seven nurses receive this award:

2020 Diana and Richard C. Strauss Service Excellence Award Nurse Recipients

The quarterly Strauss Award recognizes employees from all clinical settings who exemplify excellent care and service in a professional and positive manner, dedication to teamwork, and compassion for patients, guests, and co-workers.

The eleven nurse honorees in 2020 were:

Not pictured:

Amber Leible, RN
Ambulatory Float Pool

Madison Mabry, B.S.N., RN, CCRN

Kathie Waldron, RN
Clinical Education & Professional Practice

UTSW 2020 Nurse Excellence Awards

During Nurses Week, in May 2020, UTSW bestowed its fifth annual Nurse Excellence Awards. In all, 108 potential recipients were nominated by their peers for exemplifying what it is to be a role model, a leader, a compassionate caregiver, and a significant contributor who works to improve patient care and outcomes. Nominees notably make UT Southwestern and the community better through effective listening, inspiring others, actively participating, and showing devotion and compassion in caring for patients and their families.

The six categories are: Leader of Nursing Excellence, Ambulatory Nursing Excellence, Advanced Practice Nursing Excellence, Friend of Nursing Excellence, Clinical Educator of Nursing Excellence, and Frontline Care Provider of Nursing Excellence.

The six winners of the 2020 Nurse Excellence Awards were:

Leader of Nursing Excellence Winner

Sharon LeRoux, B.S.N., RN, OCN, CMSRN
Nurse Manager, CUH 11 Green

Ambulatory Nursing Excellence Winner

Tracee Parenti, RN
Cranial Neurological Surgery

Advanced Practice Nursing Excellence Winner

Michael Levy, RN, CNRN, ACNP-BC
Neurological Surgery

Friend of Nursing Excellence Winner

Stefanie Austin, MBA, M.P.E.
Director, Ambulatory Operations

Clinical Educator of Nursing Excellence Winner

Jeanne Seitz, B.S.N., RN, CMSRN
Unit-Based Educator, 12 Blue

Frontline Care Provider Nursing Excellence Winner

Stefanie Crain, B.S.N., RN
CUH 12 Blue

Clinical Awards and Achievements

Advanced Practice Nurse of the Year:

Patient Safety Awards

Patient Safety “Good Catch” Awards are earned by staff who submit event reports for processes in which they’ve identified a safety concern and intervened on behalf of our patients or facilities. Submissions are vetted through the offices of Clinical Safety and Medication Safety, and awards are bestowed monthly at the unit or clinic level for recognition.

The “Good Catch” Award Winners from Nursing in 2020 were:

Stacy Bautista, RN (CUH 7 Green)

Kaitlyn Gore, RN (Rapid Response Team)

Sara Wilson McNeil, RN (CUH 11 Blue)

Patient Safety Star 2020 Nursing Award Winners were:

Chacey Cunningham, B.S.N., RN (CUH 10 Blue)

Sara Wilson McNeil, RN (CUH 11 Blue)

Robyn Reed, RN (Digestive Disease Clinic)

Beacon Award for Excellence

The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) bestows the Beacon Award for Excellence to units that strive for excellence in: Leadership Structures and Systems; Appropriate Staffing and Staff Engagement; Effective Communication, Knowledge Management, Learning, and Development; Evidence-Based Practices and Processes; and Outcome Measures. The ultimate goal of the Beacon Award is to provide exceptional care for patients and their families with improved patient outcomes and satisfaction.

Following his attendance at the AACN national conference, Byron Carlisle, B.S.N., RN, CCRN-K, SCRN, nurse manager for the Neurosciences Intensive Care Unit (NSICU), encouraged his team to pursue achieving this award. Led by Sara Gary, B.S.N., CCRN, SCRN, a team of volunteers from the NSICU formed and called itself the Beacon Committee. The team worked together to compile the 52-page application that details the clinical excellence of the NSICU based on the five application requirements.

As a result of the Beacon Committee’s work, in July 2020 the NSICU was awarded a Silver-level Beacon Award of Excellence, one of only 26 ICUs across the country – and one of only five NSICUs in Texas – to receive a Beacon Award.

Leadership that Transforms

Creation of a Health System Patient Safety Department

Prior to 2020, the patient safety programs at UT Southwestern existed within separate patient safety groups in the hospital and ambulatory settings. Recognizing the need to create a comprehensive patient safety program, in January 2020 the new Health System Patient Safety Department (HSPSD) was created within the existing Department of Health System Quality and Operational Excellence.

The new department is led by Health System Director of Patient Safety Amie Swindle, M.S.N., B.S.N., RN, with dual reporting relationships to Chief Quality Officer William Daniel, M.D., and Chief Nurse Executive Susan Hernandez, D.N.P., MBA, RN. The hospital-based and ambulatory safety teams were brought together under this new structure, along with a High-Reliability Team and additional performance improvement staff, with a single leadership structure and a unified goal to promote safe care delivery systems and processes across the entire continuum of care at UT Southwestern.

Establishing an HSPSD for UT Southwestern has created a foundation for a systemwide, unified approach to patient safety. The department has launched a new department website, built to facilitate communication and information sharing. Department leaders and staff began marketing the department and connecting with other health system departments and leaders through various venues. The institutional Quality Assurance and Performance Improvement/Patient Safety Plan was revised to reflect a health system scope. The department collaborated with Organizational Development & Training to conduct a health systemwide Culture of Safety survey, the results of which will inform future patient safety initiatives.

Orange Tower Match Day

In late 2020 and early 2021, the new Third Tower at Clements University Hospital opened, adding nearly 300 beds to accommodate patients from Zale Lipshy Pavilion and growth of programs. A plan was created to redistribute patient populations and nursing staff among the new units in the Third Tower and existing units in the other two towers and to determine how employees from the inpatient nursing departments in both CUH and Zale Lipshy Pavilion would be reallocated, or “matched,” to each unit. The change in the units and patient populations is displayed below:

The goal of this Match Day was to match each nurse’s skill level with their desire to work with a certain patient population.

Nursing Directors Deshonna Taylor, M.S.N., RN, and Stephanie Huckaby, M.S.N., RN-BC, NEA-BC, were tasked with creating a process to match nurses to specific patient populations both in the new tower at CUH and at Zale Lipshy Pavilion. They formed a Match Day task force composed of employees who experienced the previous hospital move in 2014, when UT Southwestern’s St. Paul University Hospital closed with the simultaneous opening of CUH. In order to have fresh eyes to review the process, the task force also included new employees who had not experienced a department move. Staff from all job codes participated as task force members, including health unit coordinators (HUCs), registered nurses (RNs), assistant nurse managers, and nurse managers. The first meeting, in March 2020, included a review of past processes. Staff provided input on how to improve the process and determine a rollout plan following the steps below.

Rollout Plan Steps:

1. Review of Current Unit
The initial step was to identify units that would remain intact and serve the same population, which included the ICUs, ED, BMT, and L&D. These units were exempt from discussions regarding staff designations.

2. Projected Staffing Needs
Trending data were used to forecast the potential increase in patient volumes and to project the average daily census (ADC) for the new units. Using the ADC and the assigned nurse-to-patient ratios for the patient population, the number of required full-time employees was determined. While some units would need additional staff, other units would have more than the required staff.

3. Determine Skill Levels
To ensure a safe and balanced staffing mix across all units, RNs were evaluated by their current skills and competencies via a survey, along with input from their nurse managers, and placed in one of four categories (bulleted below). The process took into consideration such criteria as experience, charge capability, certification, critical thinking, and level of independence, using Benner’s Stages of Clinical Competence as a guideline.

  • Advanced Beginner – Demonstrates marginally acceptable performance because of prior experience in actual situations. Efficient and skillful in parts of the practice area, requiring occasional supportive cues. May/may not be within a delayed time period. Knowledge is developing.
  • Competent – Demonstrated by the nurse with two to three years’ experience in the same or similar setting/situations. Demonstrates efficiency. Is coordinated and confident in her/his actions. Establishes a plan based on conscious, abstract, analytical approach to the problem. Completes care in a suitable time frame without supporting cues.
  • Proficient – Understands situations as a whole and perceives meaning in terms of long-term goals. Learns from experience what to expect and how plans need to be altered in response to unplanned events. Decision-making is not labored because the nurse understands which aspects of the situation are important and where to focus.
  • Expert – Demonstrates an intuitive grasp of each situation and accurately focuses on solutions without considering a large range of alternatives. Operates from a deep understanding of the whole situation without having to break it into parts/steps. Fluid, flexible performance. Has highly developed analytic skills – and the ability to apply those skills to situations she/he has not experienced before and make sound decisions.

4. Employee Preference
A series of six virtual Q&A sessions reviewed the Match Day process and answered any questions that employees might have. More than 300 employees from the Division of Nursing participated in these Q&A sessions. In addition, 1,440 RNs participated in the survey and were matched to the units with available positions, based first on skill level, followed by stated preference.

5. Outcome
With the matches completed, staff were assigned and moved to their new units in either the new tower at CUH or at Zale Lipshy Pavilion.