Dr. Teresa Wagner

Assistant Professor and Senior Fellow for Health Literacy, UNTHSC Institute for Patient Safety

Teresa Wagner

Dr. Teresa Wagner


Education & Experience:
With many years of experience as a health professional, I hold a Bachelor of Science degree in dietetics from Texas Christian University, a Master of Science degree in nutrition from Texas Woman’s University and a Doctor of Public Health degree from the University of North Texas Health Science Center I have worked as both a healthcare provider and a public health practitioner.

I have a passion for helping people navigate healthcare. This passion was born watching my two young adult daughters dealing with medical issues in the current healthcare environment. As a result, I chose to do my Public Health Doctoral Residency in health literacy at the University of Texas Center for Health Communication and Literacy Coalition of Central Texas (LCCT). While in my residency, I was hired by the LCCT as Director of Health Literacy. There, I worked making recommendations focused on injury and hospital readmission prevention as well as improved health and wellness through effective health communication.

Teaching Areas & Public Health Interests:
Early in my career, my clinical work encompassed both hospital and community settings. I worked with Currently, I teach Maternal Child Health Nutrition and Food Safety at UNTHSC.

I gained experience in Food Safety and Security during my tenure as Director of Issues and Crisis Management for the local region of the National Dairy Council. Within that role, I collaborated with farmers, industry, law enforcement, governmental agencies and other animal groups to take preventive measures and communicate effectively regarding potential animal health issues and food security. My food safety experience developed as a dietitian and public health practitioner dealing with food borne illness prevention and abatement.

My experience with public health and health literacy began as an Adjunct Clinical Associate Professor in the School of Health Professions at UNTHSC. In that position, I wrote the Medical Nutrition Therapy Curriculum for the UNTHSC Professional and Continuing Education Office and crafted it to teach physicians to educate patients about nutrition using plain language messaging. Additionally, I participated in research teaching librarians and clinicians health literacy basics and planned three UNTHSC Health Literacy Symposia.

Professional Activities & Awards:
I am a member of the Texas Public Health Association. In my residency, I received the UT School of Nursing, TCRSS Community and Academic Collaborative Research Award and was an Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Doctoral Student in Public Health scholarship recipient. In 2010, I served on a collaborative committee of CDC and the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response to develop emergency preparedness core competencies for mid-level health care workers. In 2009, I completed the Homeland Security certified course in Preparedness and Response to Food and Agriculture Incidents.

I am a registered and licensed dietitian and a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), as well as the Texas Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (TAND), and have served the profession in many roles. For the Society for Nutrition Education (SNE), I served as Chair of both the Nutrition Education for Children Division and the Communications Division. I also served on the Council for Public Policy and co-chaired the Social Marketing Division for SNE. I completed the Commission on Dietetic Registration Certificate of Training in Childhood and Adolescent Weight Management and served on the TAND Board as Director-At-Large for Communications.

Additionally, I served as a media representative for the TAND. With over 15 years of experience as a media spokesperson on both a national and local level, I received the “Media Award” from TAND for my nutrition-based media and the “Distinguished Scientist Award” for my health literacy research highlighting the registered dietitian as part of an inter-professional team assisting people in understanding their nutrition, health and wellness protocol.

Scholarly Interests:
My research has focused mainly on health literacy, the ability for people to obtain, read, understand and use healthcare information to make appropriate health decisions and follow instructions for treatment. As such, one of my studies focused on Implantable Medical Device websites that  were found to not only be too complex, but devoid of many behavioral theory constructs to educate or empower people to make informed decisions. Currently, I am working on a study addressing the impact of health literacy on maternal mortality. Additionally, I have a collaborative study through the DFW Hospital Council Health Literacy Collaborative that I founded. This study addresses Organizational Health Literacy of hospital systems to assist them in addressing health literacy issues for quality improvement and patient understanding, thus improving outcomes and promoting patient safety.

Link to Dr. Wagner’s Curriculum Vitae:

Link to Dr. Wagner’s University Profile

This page was last modified on September 11, 2018