School of Nursing celebrates 50th anniversary at luncheon

50th anniversary School of Nursing luncheon program
Eileen Breslin
School of Nursing Dean Eileen T. Breslin, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, begins the 50th anniversary luncheon.

More than 200 faculty, community leaders and philanthropists joined alumni, former teachers and honored guests at the UT Health San Antonio School of Nursing’s 50th anniversary luncheon March 2. The event was held in the Nancy Smith Hurd Auditorium, part of the newly remodeled School of Nursing.

Following  a welcome by School of Nursing Dean Eileen T. Breslin, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, President William Henrich, M.D., MACP, announced in a video that the School of Nursing will be honored at the President’s Gala Sept. 21. Karen and Ronald Herrmann, friends of the School of Nursing, will be the honorees. The Herrmanns established the Roger L. and Laura D. Zeller Professorship in Nursing, and Karen Herrmann is an emeritus member of the Nursing Advisory Council.

Before the presentation of 50 Visionary Leader Awards, luncheon guests took a trip down memory lane with Suellen Reed, Ph.D., RN, one of four founding faculty members present. Following Dr. Reed’s presentation, Dr. Breslin discussed current School of Nursing accomplishments. Then Deborah Trautman, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, president and CEO of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, provided a glimpse into the future of the nursing profession.

The early years

Patty Hawken and Suellen Reed
Former dean of the School of Nursing Patty Hawken, Ph.D., RN, FAAN (left), visits with founding faculty member Suellen Reed, Ph.D., RN.

Dr. Reed set the stage for the founding of the School of Nursing. A faculty member from 1969 to 2000, she said, “There were no Spurs, Loop 410 was just beginning to be constructed and the county hospital was the Robert B. Green downtown. The South Texas Medical Center was just being established and this was just a great big open field where the deer roamed freely.”

When established in 1969, “The School of Nursing was one of several schools that all taught the same courses and were part of [a separate] UT System School of Nursing. It was not part of UT Health San Antonio until 1975, when the UT System School of Nursing was dissolved,” she explained.

Margretta Styles, Ed.D., RN, FAAN, was the founding dean. The first four faculty members were Debra Hymovich, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, (1969-1971), Nancy Maebius, Ph.D., M.S.N., RN, (1969-1977), Ruth Stewart, M.S., RN, FAAN, (1969-1994) and Reed.

The first classes were held in a spare room on campus with faculty and students meeting around a coffee table. Classes later met in a portable building until the school moved to its own $3.8 million building in 1974. Thirteen students were in the first graduating class in May 1971.

Dr. Reed complimented the leadership of Patty Hawken, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, who served from 1973 to 1997. She led the transition of the school to UT Health San Antonio and had many other accomplishments during her 23 years.  Please visit the School of Nursing’s Historical Timeline to view these and other milestones in the school’s history.

David Griffin, Susan Griffin and Eileen Breslin
David Griffin and Susan Griffin, M.S.N., RN, chief nurse executive of Methodist Healthcare System, visit with School of Nursing Dean Eileen T. Breslin, Ph.D., RN, FAAN. The School of Nursing has a successful internship program for nursing students with Methodist Healthcare System.

Current endeavors

Dr. Breslin, dean since 2008, brought guests up to date on current School of Nursing activities:

  • Over the past two years, Lisa Cleveland, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, has received multiple grants totaling more than $20 million to address the opioid epidemic. She leads a statewide effort to educate first responders in how to reverse opioid overdose using naloxone. She also leads a collaboration with Crosspoint to provide a recovery home in San Antonio called Casa Mia. The home is for mothers with substance use disorder and their babies with neonatal abstinence syndrome. Casa Mia could become a national model.
  • Jing Wang, Ph.D., M.P.H., RN, FAAN, joined the School of Nursing this year as vice dean for research. She is the founding director of the inter-professional Center on Smart and Connected Health Technologies that will focus on innovation and the use of telehealth and smart devices for patient-centered care.
  • Carole White, Ph.D., RN, leads the Caring for the Caregiver program, based in the School of Nursing, but also part of the Glenn Biggs Institute for Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Diseases. The program aims to improve the quality of life for family caregivers through education, hands-on skills and community events.
  • Fermon and Tommye Austin and Ella and Nelson Tuazon
    Fermon Austin and Tommye Austin, Ph.D., M.B.A., RN, NEA-BC, visit with Ella and Nelson Tuazon, D.N.P., D.B.A., M.A.Ed., RN, NEA-BC, CENP, CPHQ, FNAP, FACHE. Dr. Austin is senior vice president and chief nurse executive while Dr. Tuazon is vice president and associate chief nursing officer. Both work at University Health System.

    Under Cindy Sickora, D.N.P., RN, vice dean of practice and engagement, the School of Nursing received funding from the Children’s Health Fund to rent a mobile van so faculty and students could provide primary health care to Rockport residents following Hurricane Harvey. Since then, the school purchased the van and will use it for other missions. The school’s clinical enterprise provides health care to UT Health San Antonio students and employees, and a variety of vulnerable populations through clinics at AVANCE-San Antonio, the Healy-Murphy Center, PRIDE Community Clinic and the San Antonio Refugee Health Clinic.

  • Last fall, the school received a $2.5 million grant for a BSN that emphasizes primary care. Norma Martinez Rogers, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, is principal investigator.
  • The School of Nursing now leads the South Texas Area Health Education Centers. Jana Lesser, Ph.D., RN, oversees five regional centers encompassing 35 counties with the goal of improving access to primary care in underserved areas.
  • Danet Lapiz Bluhm, Ph.D., RN, M.S.C.I., and Darpan Patel, Ph.D., co-direct the Biobehavioral Laboratory, where faculty and students conduct clinical research.
  • The school now graduates more than 450 students and leads all UT System Schools of Nursing with National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) scores of more than 98 percent.
  • This year, the school will admit its first cohort into the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) to Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program.
Deborah Trautman
Deborah Trautman, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, spoke at the luncheon about the future of nursing. Dr. Trautman is the president and CEO of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

Future of Nursing

Dr. Breslin then introduced Dr. Trautman, president and CEO of the AACN.  Dr. Trautman said the future of nursing is ripe with challenges and opportunities, but the School of Nursing is already addressing many of these through its vision of promoting health as an act of social justice. “This school has a history of being ahead of the curve,” she said, especially in the areas of inclusion, diversity, cultural competency and access to care.

“The demand for talent focuses on those who are creative, innovative and nimble,” she said.

One new area is technology. “We have heard that more than 50 percent of jobs will be obsolete in the future, but we do not believe this will be in nursing. Human attributes will still be needed,” she said. “Technology will take over for routine labor, but there will still be a need for compassion, moral conviction, moral courage and diversity.”

Visit the School of Nursing’s 50th Anniversary webpage and see more photos from the luncheon here.



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