UT Health Science Center faculty members Parsons, Schmelz named fellows in American Academy of Nursing

SAN ANTONIO (July 18, 2008) — Two faculty members from The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio’s School of Nursing have been named fellows in the American Academy of Nursing, one of the highest achievements in the nursing profession.

The new fellows are Mickey Parsons, Ph.D., M.H.A., R.N., associate professor in the Department of Acute Nursing Care, and Joseph O. Schmelz, Ph.D., R.N. C.I.P., director of the Health Science Center’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) and associate professor of research in the Department of Acute Nursing Care.

Drs. Parsons and Schmelz will be inducted into the academy in November.

“Fellowship in the American Academy of Nursing is reserved for the true leaders of the profession,” said Eileen T. Breslin, Ph.D., R.N., professor and dean of the School of Nursing. “Dr. Parsons and Dr. Schmelz are being honored by their peers for their achievements, but they are also being challenged to step forward and give even more to the profession through national leadership and experience.”
The fellowship is made up of 1,500 nurse leaders from education, management, research and practice, including university professors, research scientists, hospital chief executives, nurse consultants and entrepreneurs. “We now have 15 faculty members in this prestigious group, one of the largest contingents of fellows among nursing schools in Texas,” Dr. Breslin said.

Dr. Parsons, who focuses on teaching and research, coordinates the Administration in Community and Health Care Systems in Nursing graduate major and leads the administrative graduate teaching team. “My primary professional goal is to develop future nurse leaders through teaching and mentoring graduate students to assume leadership roles in practice and education,” Dr. Parsons said.

Dr. Parsons also leads social action research projects that help groups of people improve their lives. For example, she provided the process to help a group of women prisoners from California establish a support network that has kept the majority of them from returning to prison, now eight years after their release. In comparison, two-thirds of federal and state prisoners are rearrested within three months of their release. In addition, the women mentor current female inmates to give them hope of a healthy life outside of prison. She presented her methodology in November at the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiative’s National Summit on Prisoner Re-entry.

Another focus of her social action research is the nursing profession, which is experiencing a severe national shortage due to nurses retiring or leaving the profession. Dr. Parsons has worked with several different groups of nurses to help them improve their working conditions and the hospitals in which they work so that they have happier and healthier careers.

Dr. Schmelz directs the IRB, a group of health professionals and community representatives that oversees human research. The IRB is charged with ensuring that risks to human subjects who volunteer for various clinical research trials are minimized and that data generated by the trials are routinely scrutinized to ensure the participants’ safety.

The IRB governs research studies conducted throughout the university, including the Cancer Therapy & Research Center at the UT Health Science Center, as well as several affiliated institutions — the University Health System, the South Texas Veterans Health Care System, the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research and the Southwest Research Institute. In addition, the IRB reviews some research conducted at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Health Care facilities and by University of Texas at Austin College of Pharmacy faculty who are located at the Health Science Center.

Dr. Schmelz, a retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel, also conducts military nursing research and recently co-authored a publication in the March edition of Critical Care Nursing Clinics of North America, “Military Nursing Research: Translation to disaster response and day-to-day critical care nursing.”


The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio is the leading research institution in South Texas and one of the major health sciences universities in the world. With an operating budget of $576 million, the Health Science Center is the chief catalyst for the $15.3 billion biosciences and health care sector in San Antonio’s economy. The Health Science Center has had an estimated $35 billion impact on the region since inception and has expanded to six campuses in San Antonio, Laredo, Harlingen and Edinburg. More than 23,000 graduates (physicians, dentists, nurses, scientists and allied health professionals) serve in their fields, including many in Texas. Health Science Center faculty are international leaders in cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, aging, stroke prevention, kidney disease, orthopaedics, research imaging, transplant surgery, psychiatry and clinical neurosciences, pain management, genetics, nursing, allied health, dentistry and many other fields. For more information, visit www.uthscsa.edu.

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