Nurses have helped shape HSC’s culture

HSC's nursing panelists.
The nursing panelists along with Dr. Sylvia Trent-Adams from HSC’s The Future of Nursing in Texas event.

Nurses have a reputation for being resilient, compassionate multi-taskers who live at the cross-section of art, science, spirituality and psychology. The profession, one of the oldest in the world, is a language with many accents.

Though The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth only recently launched its college nursing, HSC’s culture has long been shaped by the profession.

There are currently 39 nurses on staff at HSC serving in various areas – pediatrics and women’s health, family medicine, Center for Older Adults, long-term care facilities, Institute for Translational Research and even in leadership positions. High-ranking nurses on campus include HSC’s president, Dr. Sylvia Trent-Adams; VP of health systems, Jessica Rangel; and assistant professor Lillee Gelinas, DNP.

The large number of nurses already on HSC’s campus, paired with the severity of Texas’ record nursing shortage, made adding this sixth college to campus a natural fit. HSC operates under the mission to create solutions for a healthier community, and training nurses seamlessly aligns with that mission.Vicki Cannon

“The nurses on our campus are already making such a difference,” Vicki Cannon, chief nursing officer at HSC Health said. “They act as the liaisons between patients, caregivers and clinicians, by bridging the learning gap patients often experience – providing education, resources and emotional support.

“HSC Health wouldn’t be the practice it is today without them.”

HSC’s nurses aren’t strangers to educating students and other staff. Currently, they are providing ongoing mentorship and hands-on simulated learning through HSC’s Regional Simulation Center.

“With everything our nurses are already doing on campus, adding the College of Nursing just makes sense,” Cannon said. “My hope is that we will graduate nurses that will serve others and contribute to the overall good of the nursing profession.”

A Dire Need

Nurse Journal study found that nurses make up the largest segment of the health care workforce, and the profession has faced ongoing shortages for the past several years because of the ever-increasing demand for nursing skills and services. Texas has the second-fewest nurses per capita in the U.S., and regional nursing schools have been unable to address the demand, turning away approximately 30,000 qualified applicants over the past two years because of a lack of room in nursing programs.

Nursing 1028287
Dr. Barbara Aranda-Naranjo was the keynote speaker at HSC’s Future of Nursing in Texas event.

Texas currently has the second-fewest nurses per capita in the U.S. – this shortage was identified in 2000 and worsened during the pandemic. Additionally, there are 7.4 million Texans living in a Health Professional Shortage Area, further emphasizing the enormity of this crisis. With the demand for nurses projected to exceed 57,000 by 2032, the Texas health care system is at risk.

The new College of Nursing will join five other colleges and schools offering degree programs at HSC: the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine, School of Biomedical Sciences, School of Public Health, School of Health Professions and College of Pharmacy.

New dean, same mission

HSC recently announced the hiring of a founding dean for its College of Nursing. Cindy Weston, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, is joining the HSC family from her role as associate dean for clinical and outreach affairs and associate professor at the Texas A&M School of Nursing.

Dr. Cindy Weston speaking at HSC's Future of Nursing in Texas event.
HSC’s College of Nursing founding dean Dr. Cindy Weston speaking at the Future of Nursing in Texas event.

She has been a co-recipient of more than $20 million in funding to implement nurse-managed care delivery models, innovative simulation, integrated behavioral health care models and improving health outcomes in vulnerable populations. Her research focused on cardiovascular disease, health and wellness, innovative pedagogy in family nurse practitioner curriculum, access to health care in vulnerable populations, patient safety and interprofessional education.

“At a time that Texas and the nation are facing a critical nursing shortage, I am humbled and honored to join the HSC family to launch a college of nursing, which will produce professional nurse leaders equipped to address complex health issues and create healthier communities,” Weston said. “This is an exciting opportunity to design a new college of nursing aligned with HSC’s values and culture of excellence.”

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