Patient Resources

Transformational Leadership

A Year of Nursing Excellence

UT Southwestern Medical Center continues to take pride in nurses’ contributions by supporting transformational practice across the spectrum of health care services, including all nursing functions established by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). UTSW has achieved ANCC Magnet Recognition Program® designation twice since 2016, each designation cycle lasting four years. Considered the ANCC’s highest honor and the gold standard in nursing, this recognition is bestowed to health care organizations that design nursing goals to improve patient outcomes. Attaining this designation means our nurses are nationally recognized for providing excellent, evidence-based patient care, advancing their practice through research and professional development, and earning the respect of their colleagues for the important role they play on the patient care team.

UTSW nurses have a strong voice and continue to enhance care throughout the health care system and North Texas. In 2023, U.S. News & World Report named UTSW the No. 1 hospital in Texas (tied) and nationally ranked 11 of our medical specialties. Also last year, two UTSW nursing leaders were inducted as Fellows in the American Academy of Nursing, and our nurses received many other honors and awards. Nurses are the lifeline within UTSW through their influence, compassion, and clinical excellence. Transformational leadership starts with our frontline nurses, who demonstrate vision and expertise and regularly share their work and insights through peer-reviewed articles and presentations delivered locally, nationally, and internationally. UTSW nurses continue to strive to set the pace and create a culture that supports patients, families, communities, and staff.

In 2023, UTSW nurses continued to be transformational servant leaders at every level through direct patient care and beyond. The guiding principle for UTSW nurses is that “excellence is our starting point, not our finish line.”

Accreditations Achieved

Accreditations reflect the professional expertise and facilities validation of UT Southwestern nurses in providing the highest-level care and treatment for patients.

William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital continues to rank in the 98th percentile in overall hospital patient experience (Vizient). In 2023, it also was ranked the No. 1 hospital in Texas (tied) by U.S. News & World Report.

Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders

(NICHE)-Level Exemplar

National Association of Epilepsy Centers

Level 4 (highest level)

American Heart Association

Stroke Gold Plus

Texas Department of State Health Services

William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital
Level IV Trauma Facility

  • AABB Inspection
  • ACGME Institutional Site Visit
  • ACHA
  • Annual Mammography Inspection
  • Blue Distinction (C) Centers for Maternity Care
  • CARF
  • CMS Transplant
  • CVP PT Residency
  • Geriatric Emergency Department Accreditation
  • CMS Home Health Survey
  • Level IV Trauma Survey
  • X-ray Inspection
  • The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® for Hip Fracture Certification

UTSW Nursing Leaders Named to AAN Class of Fellows

UT Southwestern’s David Wyatt, Ph.D., RN, and Bradley Goettl, D.N.P., APRN, were inducted into the American Academy of Nursing’s 2023 Class of Fellows. AAN Fellows are nursing’s most accomplished leaders in education, management, practice, and research.

Dr. Wyatt, Associate Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer at William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital, became a nurse 29 years ago. He is a former President of the Association of Perioperative Registered Nurses and led the inaugural task force for men in nursing at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. In this role, his efforts resulted in gender-neutral marketing and access to benefits, as well as community relations that positively depicted men in nursing.

Dr. Goettl, Assistant Director of the Office of Advanced Practice Providers, has been in nursing for 17 years. His background includes roles in emergency medicine and disaster response, establishing APP fellowship and professional development programs to help address critical workforce shortages, and developing advanced practice nursing curricula. He also serves as a Commissioner for the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

Drs. Wyatt and Goettl join 253 new Fellows who represent 40 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and 13 countries and hold positions in governmental, clinical, nonprofit, and academic organizations.

The Academy’s more than 2,900 Fellows have expertise in policy, research, administration, practice, and academia. The AAN began in 1973 with 36 charter Fellows. The new inductees were recognized in October at the Academy’s annual Health Policy Conference in Washington, D.C.

From left: Margaret McLean, M.S.N., APRN, ACNS-BC; Quisha Roberts, M.B.A.; Meredith Stringer, APRN, ACNP-BC; Christopher Roe, M.B.A., D.N.P., CENP, APRN, ACNP-BC

Professional Development Mentorship Program Improves Employee Engagement, Prepares Future Leaders

The UT Southwestern Advanced Practice Provider (APP) Professional Development Mentorship Program began in 2016 following the results of an employee engagement survey, which voiced a desire for a mentorship program that would support the professional growth and development of APPs, encompassing advanced practice registered nurses and physician assistants.

The program was planned and executed by the Mentorship Committee, chaired, and staffed by APPs with the support and executive sponsorship of an assistant APP director within the Office of Advanced Practice Providers (OAPP). Mentees and mentors complete an application process and are matched based on the mentee’s desired area of professional growth and the mentor’s strengths. For example, if a mentee desires to learn how to publish an article, he or she is matched with a mentor who is skilled in publishing and experienced with the process. The yearlong program is centered around a SMART goal the mentee creates to achieve growth in a desired area. The mentor and mentee meet one-on-one monthly, where the mentor provides feedback and support toward the goal. Every other month, all program participants meet as a large group for advice and instruction on a variety of topics, such as:

  • Leadership pathways and development
  • Research and publication
  • Effective communication
  • Public speaking
  • Poster development and presentation

The program concludes with an end-of-year celebratory event, where the mentees present their capstone SMART goal project during a moderated poster session.

Through the first five cohorts of the program, 68 mentees participated in the program. Eight of the 68 participated as a mentee for more than one year, either because they had not completed their SMART goal and wished to continue or because they were looking to advance in another professional area. To date, outcome data is complete for 67 of the participants.

Post-participation survey (% who responded “agree” or “strongly agree”)

Cardiothoracic Symposium

In late 2022, the patient volume and clinical teams in cardiac and thoracic surgery expanded. During this growth period, nursing, physician, and advanced practice leadership identified a chance to host a formal interprofessional symposium focused on the holistic care of cardiothoracic surgery patients. The inspiration for this event stemmed from a desire to unite the cardiac surgery and thoracic surgery specialties and provide a formalized professional development opportunity for nurses.

Prior to the pandemic, two annual symposiums focused solely on the care of thoracic surgery patients. These educational opportunities were well-received by nurses. In 2020, a third symposium was held, this time virtually, and it was less successful than the in-person events of previous years. After pausing for a few years, the symposium was revived and redesigned to expand beyond thoracic surgery and encompass cardiac surgery care. This formalized educational opportunity was focused on nursing professional development and growth by highlighting the multidisciplinary care model for the cardiothoracic patient population.

The goal of the newly revamped cardiothoracic nursing symposium was to enhance interprofessional collaboration and increase bedside nurses’ knowledge and comfort level in caring for postoperative cardiothoracic patients. A daylong in-person conference was thoughtfully planned based on the identified learning needs of nurses and included didactic, hands-on, interactive sessions. It was held at Clements University Hospital’s Education Center on April 14, 2023. Presenters reflected the multidisciplinary team, including advanced practice registered nurses, physician assistants, rehabilitation and respiratory therapists, physicians, and nutritionists. Topics ranged from drain management for chest tubes, NG tubes, and J-tubes to nutrition support, respiratory and pain management, and teachings on common cardiothoracic surgeries, including coronary artery bypass grafts and lobectomies.

The cardiothoracic nursing symposium was very well-received. In all, 115 participants enrolled, and there was standing room only in the auditorium. Nursing professional development credits (7.25 CNEs) were awarded to all participants. At the beginning of the symposium, a pre-test was administered to all participants. It included 10 multiple-choice questions related to the holistic care of cardiothoracic patients. Ninety-two pre-test responses were received, with 42.85% of questions answered correctly. The same 10 test questions were given to participants at the end of the symposium. Of the 93 post-test responses received, 69% of questions were answered correctly. This reflected a 61% increase in correct answers based on knowledge gained throughout the symposium.

  • Kristin Davis, PT, D.P.T., CCS
  • Tony Garcia, M.S.N., APRN, AGACNP-BC, FNP-BC, ACCNS-BC
  • Melissa Garner, M.H.A., RRT-NPS
  • Colleen Goodroe, M.P.A.S., PA-C
  • Tonya Hooper, M.S.N., APRN, ACNP-BC
  • Kailee Hughes, M.S.N., APRN, AGACNP-BC
  • Heather Kirchman, M.S., RD, LD, CNSC
  • Gene Legaspi, M.S.N., APRN, AGACNP-BC
  • Anthony Machi, M.D.
  • Jaffer Odeh, M.D.
  • Monica Pierce, M.S.N., APRN, ACNP-BC
  • Scott Reznick, M.D.
  • John Waters, M.D.

Occupational Health Collaborates with Vendor for Cost-Saving Initiative

Financial stewardship is an important consideration in the current environment of rising medical costs. The expense of medical testing is not isolated to patient care but extends to necessary occupational health testing. Important screenings such as oral toxicology for new-hire candidates and internal transfers are a crucial part of the onboarding process. Working as an RN Supervisor, Tonia Chisolm, M.S.N., RN, was asked by the Occupational Health Medical Director to optimize the process of oral toxicology screening for new employees.

Having worked in the past with device representatives and vendors in the Cath Lab, Chisolm started by seeking another supplier for the oral and urine toxicity screening tools. The contact information of the current vendor for verifying positive results in urine toxicology screenings was challenging to locate but, after persistent efforts, was obtained. Establishing this direct contact was a huge win for the Occupational Health department and facilitated continued communication.

During ongoing conversations with the primary vendor regarding potential oral testing options, Chisolm inquired about the company’s capacity to provide the urine toxicology screening (UTS) tool and associated tools. Chisolm’s thought was that if the primary vendor could meet UTSW demand, a third-party vendor might not be needed, which would potentially result in cost savings for the department. These savings would hold significant value given that Occupational Health is a service-oriented department, not one that generates revenue.

For the fiscal year 2023, Occupation Health completed more than 4,800 UTSs, using 192 boxes, each containing 25 cups. In the previous purchase arrangement with the third-party vendor, each 25-cup box cost $310.76. However, the primary vendor proposed a price of $143.75 per box, resulting in a significant savings of $167.01 per box.

Looking ahead to the projection for FY 24 with the third-party vendor, the cost would tally up to $59,665.92, but ordering from the primary vendor would lower the cost to $27,600 – a total cost savings of $32,065.92. Occupational Health initiated the switch in vendors, effective November 2023.

ZL5 Leadership Facilitates Smooth Transition to CUH

In early 2023, discussions regarding the renovations at Zale Lipshy Pavilion prompted nurse leaders from Zale Lipshy 5 (ZL5) to collaborate on devising effective ways to ensure a seamless temporary relocation of staff and patients from ZL5 to three different units at Clements University Hospital (CUH) until the renovations were completed. Many arrangements were organized well before the official move, which took place in the last week of October and the first week of November. Plans included several critical components, such as competency development across units handling new patient populations, super-user training facilitated by therapy services focusing on mobilizing orthopedic and spine surgery patients, nurse manager handoff meetings with medical directors, nurse leader presentations during receiving units' staff meetings, and coordination with materials management for the required supplies at receiving units, among other considerations.

The initiative’s goal was to provide continuity of care during the transition.

ZL5 Assistant Nurse Managers Julie Varkey, M.S.N., RN, CMSRN, and Khoi Ngo, B.S.N., RN, PCCN, Nursing Director Cynthia Hill, M.S.N., B.S.N., RN, and Nurse Manager Nancy Palacios, D.N.P., APRN, FNP-BC, NE-BC, collaborated with CUH units 10 Green and 12 Orange, which had vacancies. The ZL5 staff team was supported during the transition, reducing staffing needs. Nurse Managers Stacey Henry, B.S.N., RN, NE-BC, and Annie Jojy, M.B.A., B.S.N., RN, along with Nurse Directors Deshonna Taylor, D.N.P., RN, CCRN-K, and Dawn Brown, M.S.-M.A.S., B.S.N., RN, NE-BC, actively backed the effort and engaged in planning. Leading up to the move, Henry and Jojy ensured the ZL5 team felt supported and informed by presenting updates at staff meetings. This was vital as the team shifted from caring for acute surgical patients to internal medicine patients. Prior to the official move, the units held a joint kickoff celebration, allowing everyone to connect, dine together, hear from leaders, and receive resources to ensure a successful transition. Support from HR, NOMAD (Navigating Our Multifaceted Acute Distress), staffing services, care coordinators, clinical informatics, and mobile Moxi robotic assistants further strengthened the teams.

The teams are grateful to their nursing directors and executive leaders for support during this planning and transition. As a result, the nursing units demonstrated resilience and maintained continuity of care across service-specific goals such as initiating postoperative ambulation within four hours and maintaining spine pathway compliance documentation.

  • Therapy Services: Julie Buchl, PT, D.P.T., M.B.A., FACHE, Therapy Director; Homer Walag, PT, D.P.T., Therapy Manager; Jace Kerby, PT, D.P.T., Therapy UBE; Heather Paup, PT, D.P.T., Assistant Therapy Manager
  • Nursing Directors: Cynthia Hill, M.S.N., RN; Shari Ann Dino Vu, M.S.N., RN, CCRN, NE-BC; Deshonna Taylor, D.N.P., RN, CCRN; Dawn Brown, M.S.-M.A.S., B.S.N., RN, NE-BC; Byron Carlisle, M.S.N., RN, CCRN, SCRN
  • Nurse Managers: Annie Jojy, M.B.A., B.S.N., RN; Stacey Henry, B.S.N., RN, NE-BC; Nikarlo Rogers, M.H.A., B.S.N., RN; Christina Joe, B.S.N., RN, NE-BC; Beena Johnson, M.S.N., RN, RN-BC; Donald Stout, B.S.N., RN, RT(R), ARRT; Nancy Palacios, D.N.P., APRN, FNP-BC, NE-BC
  • Assistant Nurse Managers: Julie Varkey, M.S.N., RN, CMSRN; Khoi Ngo, B.S.N., RN, PCCN; Neely Helton, B.S.N., RN
  • Staffing Services: Jerry Hoang, B.S.N., RN, CCRN; Kaitlyn Gore, M.S.N., RN, CCRN; Jeremy Musil, B.S.N., RN, CCRN
  • Rapid Response Team Manager: Ambrose Muchiri, B.S.N., RN, CCRN
  • Care Coordination: Catherine Close, B.S.N., RN, OCN; Lynne Howsley, B.S.N., RN, CCM; Valerie Cabello, B.S.N., RN, ACM-RN
  • Education: Brenda Pope, M.S.N.-Ed., NPD-BC; Danica Fuerte, M.S.N., RN, NPD-BC; Punitha Wilson, D.N.P., RN, GERO-BC; Autumn Spencer, M.B.A., B.S.N., RN, CCRN
  • CRU: Teresa Eversole, CCRC, ACRP-PM
  • Finance: Chris Thomas
  • And many more

Inaugural Opioid Safety Awareness Event 2023

No community in the U.S. has gone untouched by the opioid crisis, which has left a compounding ripple effect and has impacted patients, families, and employees at all health care facilities, including our own. In response, UTSW developed a comprehensive opioid safety strategy to ensure controlled substances (CS) chain of custody controls and accountability across the Health System.

UTSW has embarked on enhancing its CS program through interdisciplinary collaboration, stricter pharmacy controls, policy adherence, Elsevier education, effective communication, and lean tools for process improvement projects while engaging in continual surveillance and quality improvement efforts. UTSW's Opioid Safety Team (OST) is dedicated to promoting the chain of custody and is part of the diversion response team called the Controlled Substance Investigation Team (CSIT).

The OST and CSIT wanted to further engage nursing staff by holding an annual event where key stakeholders would have an opportunity to come together to share learned knowledge, skills, and best practices for raising opioid safety awareness among patients and employees and to promote education and growth among peers.

An inaugural 3.5-hour virtual and in-person Opioid Safety Awareness Event was organized with those goals in mind. RN residents, fellows, and UTSW staff attended the event.

Event coordination and planning used quality process improvement methodologies and tools. A budget was established and approved to cover event-related costs. Senior leadership endorsed the initiative by delivering critical messages related to the chain of custody and by conveying an impactful narrative of our institutional opioid safety journey along with associated hospital policies and state and federal laws. Multidisciplinary stakeholders across UTSW collaborated and set up learning stations and presentations on topics related to the chain of custody and best practices related to opioid safety.

Presenters at the Opioid Safety Event:

  • Susan Hernandez, D.N.P., M.B.A., RN, Associate Vice President and Health System Chief Nurse Executive
  • William C. Daniel, M.D., M.B.A., Vice President Health System Affairs Chief Quality Officer
  • David A. Wyatt, Ph.D., RN, CNOR, NEA-BC, Chief Nursing Officer, Clements University Hospital
  • Sharron Coffie, M.S.N., RN, CNS, Director, Opioid Safety, Quality and Operational Excellence, Opioid Safety Team and CSIT
  • Elizabeth Daniel, Pharm.D., BCPS, BCCCP, Controlled Substance Surveillance and Safety Coordinator
  • Julie Petitta, B.S.N., RN, 10 Orange Nurse Manager; D'Amber Howell, B.S.N., RN, 10 Orange Unit Based Educator (UBE) Clinical Education and Professional Development
  • Tanisha Wilcots, M.S.N., RN, NE-BC, Clinical Nurse Manager, CUH Prep/Recovery & PACU; Damon Watkins, M.S.N., RN, CPAN, NE-BC, Clinical Nurse Manager, CUH Prep/Recovery & PACU; Shelley Aleni, M.S.N., B.S.N., RN-BC, Assistant Manager, CUH Prep/Recovery & PACU
  • Lora Garcia, B.S.N., RN, CEN/CFRN, Emergency Department; Ami Gollihar, B.S.N., CPN, Imaging Services, CUH
  • Joseph Nguyen, Pharm.D., M.B.A., CHC, CPPS, Director, Controlled Substance Compliance

Learning Stations at the Opioid Safety Event:

  • Environmental Compliance Program – Waste Disposal Management
  • Professional Practice and Nursing Peer Review
  • Pharmacy’s Role in Opioid Safety
  • CS Education – Regulatory Mandates, Hospital Education Modules/Tools/Resources
  • Use of Portable Communication Devices to Locate a Waste Witness
  • Employee Assistance Program – Employee Wellness Options
  • Pain Reassessment – Practice Enrichment, Pain Management Documentation
  • Impact of Nursing Informatics in the Electronic Health Record
  • Nursing Informatics – Innovative Mobile Transportation
  • Health System Patient Safety

More than 215 guests attended this introductory event, exceeding the goal set for the attendees by sevenfold! Excitement and energy were palpable throughout the day. The event received overwhelmingly positive feedback, generating such enthusiasm that attendees made recommendations and volunteered to be on the workgroup for the next installment. In addition to improving care, enhancing service, and promoting safe practices for patients and employees, the event aligned with our health care organization’s FY 23 goals by putting people first!

Multiple communications of congratulations and lessons learned emphasized the need to hold this awareness event annually. A second Opioid Safety Awareness Event is being planned for March 2024.

Other UTSW staff involved in this project:

  • Lorena Campos, M.S.N., RN, Project Manager, Opioid Safety Team
  • Sharron Coffie, M.S.N., RN CNS, Director, Opioid Safety Team
  • Evelynn Githiiyu, D.N.P., RN, Project Manager, Opioid Safety Team
  • Walterine Nelson, Ph.D., RN, NE-BC, Nursing Professional Development Practitioner, Clinical Education and Professional Practice
  • Summera Zaheer, M.H.A., CLSSGB, PMP, Project Manager, Opioid Safety Team

Emergency Department Workplace Violence Committee

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, the Clements University Hospital Emergency Department (ED) experienced an increase in its number of physical and verbal abuse events. ED nurse Erica Harris, B.S.N., RN, noticed this trend and decided to advocate on behalf of the staff by contacting ED leadership and the Patient Safety team for assistance. After conferring with Amie Swindle, M.S.N., RN, from Patient Safety, and Rachel Faidley, M.S.N., RN, from the ED management team, it was decided that a Workplace Violence (WPV) Committee should be introduced to help decrease violent events and help staff feel safe in their workplace. In August 2022, the WPV Committee was created, and its members have been working nonstop to create a safer workplace for those in the ED.

At each monthly WPV Committee meeting, members discuss workplace violence event reports and contribute to practical solutions. ED staff members and managers, the Patient Safety team, and representatives from Hospital Operations and the UTSW Police Department are present at each discussion. This collaborative approach allows for in-depth conversations and the development of novel solutions.

The first committee meeting in September 2022 focused on the trial of a new debriefing form used after a disruptive event. The form is designed to attach to a "workplace violence" event report and to assist leadership in forming solutions to decrease future events.

The WPV Committee also voiced a need for signage in the lobby to increase patient/visitor awareness of spreading nonviolence and triaging the waiting room. These signs explain the triage process and the reasoning behind wait times. With the UTSW marketing team's help and coordination, these signs were placed around the waiting room on April 28, 2023.

The following month, on May 24, in collaboration with the Patient Safety team and Informatics, the WPV Committee introduced, trialed, and released the Vocera Panic Button, which allows staff to get assistance immediately from any other ED staff member signed into the Vocera system. To date, this feature has helped protect the staff members involved in several high-risk scenarios.

The committee’s most recent project is the Behavior Alert Flag. After months of discussion and collaboration with the Patient Safety team and Informatics, the flag went live on Aug. 22, 2023. This flag, which appears in a banner on a patient’s Epic chart, is added by the WPV team when they are made aware of an aggressive patient, alerting all staff in the ambulatory and inpatient settings if the patient has had hostile behavior in the past.

Through these initiatives, the WPV Committee has brought together members of the ED, UTSW Police Department, Patient Safety, and Hospital Operations to make the ED a safer place for patients and staff.

Because of the committee’s work, the ED has seen an increase in staff empowerment and a feeling of support from the organization. A recent WPV Committee survey found that 62% of respondents feel that their concerns related to workplace violence have been heard, 59% think their relationship with the UTSW Police Department has improved, 32% feel that verbal abuse has decreased, and 40% believe physical abuse has reduced. As Tables 1 and 2 show, there has been an overall decrease in each event subtype involving workplace violence since the WPV Committee was implemented, and we have seen a notable cultural shift for the better in the ED.

  • Kaylee Christenson, M.S.N., RN, ED ANM/Committee Advisor
  • Tessa Clarkson, B.S.N., RN, ED ANM/Committee Advisor
  • Lauren Evans, M.S., B.S.N., RN, Program Manager, Workplace Violence Prevention
  • Rachel Faidley, M.S.N., RN, CEN, Clinic Manager, Core Pain Clinic
  • Richard Fernandez, M.S.N., RN, ED Manager
  • Erica Harris, B.S.N., RN, CEN, Workplace Violence Committee Chair/Founder
  • Consuela Harvey, D.N.P., RN, Workplace Violence Committee Co-Chair
  • Mike Mayo, M.S.N., RN, CCRN, ED Director
  • Ron Norris, D.H.A., M.B.A., M.H.S.M., FACHE, Director of Hospital Operations
  • Sgt. Cortney Nowik, UTSW PD ER Liaison
  • Eric Spradling, B.S.N., RN, Behavioral Response Nurse
  • Amie Swindle, M.S.N., RN, CPPS, Health System Patient Safety Director