What a Difference a Semester Makes

Dean of the UT Austin School of Nursing

Dean Alexa Stuifbergen

It seems like only yesterday I was welcoming you to a new school year, one that I felt would be full of promise for the future. And it certainly has been!

We got off to a great start in September when several hundred visitors and UT Austin colleagues attended a soiree at the School of Nursing welcoming Dr. Clay Johnston, the inaugural dean of the Dell Medical School. Our guests braved road closures and construction debris in order to hear Dean Johnston share his inclusive vision for the new medical school. By all accounts, it was worth it, and we look forward to a fruitful collaboration with our new neighbors.

Academically, we have a good report on all fronts — from undergraduate to master’s to doctoral programs.

  • Our new freshman admissions policy made a seamless transition. As you may know, in the past students were admitted into the nursing program as juniors. This fall, freshmen admitted to UT Austin who declared nursing as their first choice major were admitted directly into the four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. The newly revised curriculum has students taking nursing courses earlier than in the previous degree plan and feeling a part of the School sooner rather than later.
  • We recently observed the 25th anniversary of the Alternate Entry Masters of Science in Nursing program. Twenty-five years is hardly “old,” but we were one of the first schools in the nation to launch a program that opened nursing education opportunities to people from all walks of life. Several of our alumni came back “home” on a cold and rainy Saturday in November to help us celebrate the program’s success.
  • And last but not least, I am very pleased to announce that the School of Nursing has received approval from the University of Texas System Board of Regents to launch a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree program. This professional doctoral program is designed to prepare graduates for today’s increasingly complex health care practice and clinical leadership roles and will help meet the demand for more practitioners able to provide leadership at the highest levels of health care and for highly prepared clinical faculty for schools of nursing.

This semester 85 students will graduate. Of those, 64 will receive a bachelor of science in nursing, 17 a master’s and three a doctorate. Congratulations to these scholars and nurses. I’m proud of each and every one of you.

But it hasn’t all been a bed of roses: We’ve experienced our share of inconvenience as well, with construction encroaching on us from every side. I’m grateful for how students, faculty, staff, and visitors have continually adapted to the many barriers and frequent rerouting in order to make their way to the School.

Change is rarely easy. However, in keeping with everything else at the School of Nursing these days, the situation is looking up, and I’m happy to tell you that Red River Street will reopen in early 2015.

It’s been a wonderful semester. As it draws to a close, I would like to say thank you to the faculty and staff and our donors and friends for making it a stellar one. I can hardly wait to see what next year brings!

In the meantime, I wish you all a very happy new year.

Get Involved With Your Nursing School

Member of the University of Texas Nursing Students Association

UTNSA members

The University of Texas Nursing Students’ Association (UTNSA) is a gateway for nursing students to become involved with the community, fellow nursing students, health care workers, faculty and so much more.

Every other week at 7 p.m. on alternating Tuesdays and Wednesdays, UTNSA holds meetings at the School of Nursing where we discuss upcoming events and occasionally host guest speakers who are members of the health care system. Fall semester 2014 has been full of activities and opportunities.

UTNSA students at pumpkin-carving event

Pumpkin carving

To help UTNSA members mingle, we host “socials.” A few of the socials this semester included a trip to Amy’s Ice Cream where UTNSA members all met up at Amy’s to relax and enjoy some ice cream; a pumpkin-carving social on the main campus where members carved pumpkins in groups of about four per pumpkin; and a Mozart’s social where we gathered at Mozart’s coffee shop to grab a coffee and study together.

UTNSA also puts on many volunteer events. Some of the events we have hosted/participated in this semester are:

UTNSA students in canoe

Olivia Baker and UTNSA “crew”

Lady Bird Lake Clean Up, where members teamed up in pairs of two, got in a canoe, and paddled around the lake while collecting as much trash as possible;

The Homeless Resource Fair, where UTNSA helped the homeless to find reading glasses that best suited them and gave mini-ear exams and much more;

“Aid 480,” a canned food and clothing drive, where UTNSA members attempt to provide clothes for 480 individuals in need.

UTNSA also has a mentorship program at Austin Reagan High School at which our members carpool to Reagan once a week to talk with high school students about college, nursing and any other questions they may have. During our visits, we also teach or put on an activity such as how to take blood pressure and pulse rates. UTNSA mentors keep in touch with their mentee through email and help to get them on the right track to college.

These are just a few examples of how UTNSA volunteers in the community!

At our last meeting we had a guest speaker from hospice speak to us about what hospice is, what nurses’ roles are in providing care to patients and how to become a volunteer with hospice. In an upcoming UTNSA meeting we are planning to have a UT nursing graduate who now works in a hospital speak about her experience after graduation.

Each semester UTNSA also provides opportunities for anyone at UT to become CPR- and first aid-certified at a discounted price through the American Heart Association and to order medical supplies through our organization at a discounted price.

Becoming a member of UTNSA is easy! Dues are $20 a semester or $35 annually. In order to remain an active member, individuals must attend three meetings a semester, attend two socials and provide six hours volunteering at UTNSA events.

For more information on UTNSA and upcoming events, you can visit our website or like us on Facebook!

—Olivia Baker, BSN with Honors,  UTNSA President

Where Seldom Is Heard

UT Austin School of Nursing alumna

Peggy Adams, MSN, RN

In the late 1800s, an otolaryngologist named Dr. Brewster M. Higley wrote the words to the familiar cowboy song “Home on the Range.” The last line promises that “seldom is heard a discouraging word, and the skies are not cloudy all day.”

Apparently, the western range was an idyllic place for cowboys to work and live. Who wouldn’t thrive in such a pleasant setting?

Ironically, in today’s health care settings, the very places that boldly promote health in body, mind and spirit, we sometimes encounter just the opposite of a peaceful, encouraging work environment. As nurses, we may find ourselves in a very discouraging place with cloudy, stormy, tension-filled skies all around. What happened to encouragement and where can we find it when we need it?

In the several decades of my nursing career, I’ve experienced a wide variety of work environments and cultures. Some places were lacking in the necessary support for nursing both from the top down and also laterally among the peer group. Nurses simply survived the day-to-day routine until burn out set in and they left.

However, I have also worked in places that oozed with life-giving energy and mutual encouragement among the members of the health care team at every level. It was a joy to go to work there each day.

The word encouragement contains the word courage, which comes from the French word coeur, meaning heart. So literally, to encourage someone means to give heart, to embolden. As nurses who continually give of themselves to care for others, we also need that therapeutic dose of encouragement every day.

Where do we get it?

First, encouragement should come from the top down in every organization. In health care, this habit can be hardwired into the nurse leader’s daily routine. While making rounds to ensure the delivery of excellent patient care, he or she should also take the time to sincerely extend the gift of encouragement and inspiration to the nurses in his or her charge and notice people doing things right and acknowledge their efforts.

Real encouragement is specific and genuine, not general and banal. Just a few timely words such as, “Now that’s a thorough assessment!” will be long remembered by a hard-working bedside nurse. Meaningful acknowledgement from the top helps to set the tone of respect and appreciation for professional nurses throughout an organization.

The second source of encouragement should come from one’s peers. It is most likely to bubble up in a department or unit where co-workers feel valued and each job is infused with importance. When the leader is supportive, fair and attentive in his or her dealings with every employee, he or she provides a measure of calm assurance and decreases the likelihood of jealousy among the staff. No one has to “fight” for the boss’s attention. There is no favoritism. This opens the door for mutual respect among the peer group and provides the opportunity for encouraging one another.

I recently worked in a large, women’s services department where the nurses had created a system for publicly recognizing the good deeds of their colleagues. They wrote “thank you” and other acknowledgements on star-shaped paper and pinned them to the bulletin board for all to see. When praise is received from a professional nursing peer who can truly measure and appreciate nursing expertise, that praise is a tremendous source of encouragement.

Finally, at some point nurses must figure out how to encourage themselves and to make self-care a priority. Why not give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done and reward yourself with time spent on maintaining your own health? This includes physical, psychosocial and spiritual choices that promote wellness and wholeness.

I have learned to purposefully schedule time to enjoy the people and activities that invigorate my life. Spiritual nourishment, strenuous exercise, support from respected colleagues, and laughter with family and friends are my prescription for daily encouragement.

I think Dr. Higley would agree.


Peggy Adams received her BSN at The University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing in 1978 and her MSN at Texas Womens University in the Texas Medical Center in Houston in 1987.

She worked for 10 years in pediatrics at Hermann Hospital (now Memorial Hermann) in Houston. She currently has a consulting business (Adams Consulting) that specializes in individual and group training for those in nursing leadership and management positions. She also coaches new graduates who are seeking their first professional nursing position. Her interview preparation strategies are based on:

  • firsthand experience interviewing and hiring nurses as a supervisor,
  • personal knowledge of the professional nursing culture of many health care institutions, and
  • carefully honed writing and speaking skills.

Staff Nurses and Evidence-Based Practice

Editor’s note: The following blog is by Linda Yoder, PhD, MBA, RN, AOCN, FAAN, Robert Wood Johnson Executive Nurse Fellow. Dr. Yoder is an associate professor and director of Nursing Administration and Healthcare Systems Management at the University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing.

The original research article “Staff Nurses’ Use of Research to Facilitate Evidence-Based Practice” mentioned below was published in the September 2014 issue of the American Journal of Nursing (AJN). The article was featured in the AJN blog Off the Charts, in which the bloggers discussed the importance of these findings. To read that blog, click this link.

 

Professor Linda Yoder

Dr. Linda Yoder

I was thrilled to be part of the research team that conducted a study on staff nurses and their use of evidence-based practices and pleased that the American Journal of Nursing recognized the importance of the topic and chose to publish it.

Unfortunately, the findings support other research from the past two decades stating that bedside nurses do not have sufficient skills to read and critique the research to determine if they should change practice based on research findings.

Also, with nurses working 12-hour shifts, they have clearly indicated that they are not willing to engage in research usage or evidence-based practice (EBP) activities unless they received paid time to do so. In other words, this is not an activity that they are willing to do during their personal time.

The findings from this study create a challenge for senior leaders in acute care hospitals. They must determine whether EBP activities are important enough to support financially and they must provide additional education for nurses so they can gain the skills needed to accurately critique the science.

Partners in Research, Health Care and Education

Two UT Austin deans

Dean Alexa Stuifbergen and Dell Medical School Dean Clay Johnston

On Tuesday, Sept. 16, Alexa Stuifbergen, dean of The University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing, welcomed visitors to the Jack and Laura Lee Blanton Lecture in Nursing, which featured Clay Johnston, inaugural dean of the UT Austin Dell Medical School.

The evening was a celebration of the new medical school and all the opportunities that affords for future interprofessional collabortion as well as a recognition of the consortium of educators, civic leaders and health care organizations who had worked for many years to change the landscape of health care education and delivery in Central Texas.

dean at podium during lecture

Dean Stuifbergen’s opening remarks

Dean Stuifbergen reminded the audience that as recently as Nov. 6, 2012, Proposition 1, which assessed a small property tax increase to pay for changes to the health care delivery system, was passed by Travis County voters.

In addition to providing for a medical school and teaching hospital, Prop 1 outlined ways to increase access for the underinsured and uninsured, efforts that complement the school of nursing’s long-term mission and history of strong clinical training and community-based research — particularly research efforts to improve the health of the underserved.

This video includes opening remarks by Dean Stuifbergen and Dean Johnston’s presentation “The New Dell Medical School: Joining the Team Promoting Health.”

The Big Picture

Shannan Needleman and her daughter Taylor

Alumna Shannan Needleman and her daughter Taylor

In May my mother-in-law experienced a syncope episode while shopping at the outlets. Luckily she felt dizzy and sat down before she passed out.

My father-in-law became paralyzed with fear, but gracious bystanders came to his aid. The emergency medical service arrived as my mother-in-law regained consciousness. They took her vital signs and determined her blood pressure was low and decided it was best to transport her to the local medical center.

Completely flustered by the incident, my father-in-law scoured the parking lot but was so worried about his wife that he couldn’t find the car. He meandered around for nearly an hour and was then unable to find the hospital on his own. Nearly two hours after my mother-in-law was transported by ambulance, my father-in-law arrived at the hospital.

The CT scan revealed that my mother-in-law’s known benign meningioma had doubled in size. Though this was not determined to be the cause of her fainting episode, the hospital staff recommended she be transferred to a bigger hospital for evaluation by a neurologist. Two days later she was advised to have the tumor removed from the frontal lobe of her brain.

My in-laws have been married for 55 years. They have a co-dependent relationship. My mother-in-law (age 73) is a strong woman totally capable of taking care of herself, but heavily relies on my father-in-law to meet her daily living needs. She never learned to drive, rarely works in the yard or empties a trash can. He makes all the phone calls and does most of the grocery shopping. My father-in-law has also relied on my mother-in-law for three square meals a day, clean clothes, his medication and instructions on how to move through his day. Together they have clearly defined roles. Apart they can’t seem to function independently. It was a scary realization for my husband and me.

Thankfully the surgery was successful. The neurologist called us with an update and said if all goes well she could be discharged in three to four days. However, he was a bit concerned about discharging her to the care of her husband. The neurologist commented that my father-in-law was clearly frazzled by the situation and unable to focus on any medical information given to him. We quickly determined I needed to help them through this difficult time.

Upon arrival I was shocked to find my father-in-law disheveled and exhausted. His color was not good and he looked like he had lost quite a bit of weight; clearly he had not been coping well over the past few days. He admitted he had been overly stressed by Mom’s sickness and felt he was unable to take care of himself without her. I said that now was not the time for him to feel sorry for himself, that he needed to be there for her, which meant he had to take care of himself. A harsh reality, but something he needed to hear.

Fortunately I was able to help my mother-in-law through the discharge process. Shortly after we arrived home, I realized that she had been sent home with another patient’s discharge information with completely different instructions and no follow-up orders. I had to call to clarify her orders.

Deciphering the steroid tapering instructions was tricky for me — a well-seasoned nurse — and nearly impossible for an 81-year-old poorly functioning spouse. In an attempt to divide the pills into doses, I noted the pharmacy had put 10 extra pills in the bottle.

I share this story because I worry that this medical scenario may be commonplace in the geriatric population. It bothers me that the neurologist and ICU nursing staff were aware and documented that my father-in-law was not functioning well and yet no one really made any attempt to help him. He is a heart patient and wears a medical bracelet. How easy would it have been for a nurse to take his blood pressure? Or ask him if he has been taking his medication properly? Would a social work consult have been appropriate in this situation? I shudder to think how my father-in-law would have coped with my mother-in-law’s discharge had I not been there.

I think back to my excellent training as a student nurse at The University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing and remember how the teachers embraced the concept of family-centered care. This was especially important in my field of neonatal care. As primary care nurses for babies, my colleagues and I cared for the entire family and often identified parenting issues and financial burdens, and worked hard to seek the proper outside resources for families to ensure that their baby was safe and healthy upon discharge and beyond.

As nurses we inherently understand that new parents often need assistance, but when it comes to the aging population, we tend to feel they have a lifetime of knowledge and experience to help them cope. We take for granted that the elderly have the physical, emotional and sometimes mental capacity to cope with a major life-changing event, such as illness.

This experience made me realize that as a nurse it is important to remember to not only treat your patient, but to take into consideration the patient’s support system. Recovering from open brain surgery is difficult at any age, but imagine experiencing this event in your 70s.

Although hospitals may consider a quick discharge a successful case, the entire hospitalization is pointless if the patient fails to safely transition at home. Often, older spouses do not have the mental resources, cognitive flexibility and physical stamina to cope with an unexpected health situation. Their entire world changes in the blink of an eye, and they become paralyzed.

It behooves nurses to explore beyond a patient’s physical well-being and determine what needs must be met for both spouses during the hospital stay and upon discharge.

By “seeing the bigger picture,” you are not acting as just a caregiver, but truly a lifesaver.

Welcome to a New Semester

Dean of the UT Austin School of Nursing

Dean Alexa Stuifbergen

I always find the beginning of the school year to be exciting and full of promise for the future. A new year always offers a new start, with opportunities to engage with new professors, confront and challenge new ideas and perspectives, and bring your own renewed sense of discovery and curiosity to the academic experience. It’s a time ripe with possibility and intellectual excitement.

Although it’s always a bit slower during the summer months, we haven’t exactly been inactive, and I have something new and something old to share with you all.

First and foremost, this semester marks the start of our new freshman admissions policy. In the past, students were admitted — after a competitive process — into the nursing program as juniors. This fall, freshmen admitted to UT Austin who declared nursing as their first choice major were admitted directly into the four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. A newly revised curriculum will have students taking nursing courses earlier than in the previous degree plan, and as sophomores, they will begin hands-on clinical practice rather than having to wait until their junior year.

As you may have heard, several changes are afoot in health-care education across the country, and the UT Austin School of Nursing is addressing these as well. We were successful in securing a significant grant under the leadership of Dr. Gayle Timmerman, associate dean of academic affairs, to promote inter-professional education (IPE) at UT Austin. This has prompted several initiatives to build IPE into the nursing curriculum as well as curricula in the College of Pharmacy, the School of Social Work and the upcoming Dell Medical School.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Alternate Entry Masters of Science in Nursing (AE-MSN) degree. Twenty-five years is hardly “old,” but we were in fact the second school of nursing in the nation to launch a program that opened nursing education opportunities to people from all walks of life. Today, several other schools of nursing provide a similar program.

Designed for individuals holding baccalaureate or graduate degrees in disciplines other than nursing who are interested in pursuing both a registered nurse license and master’s in nursing degree, the program has graduated more than 691 students to date. Students are admitted once a year, and 144 are currently enrolled.

I’m particularly pleased to tell you about changes to our own building. We recently began work on a master plan — about which we will be soliciting input from students and faculty — that we believe will provide the best support for teaching, learning and research. These changes are long overdue, and we are eager to hear your ideas.

Speaking of buildings, Dell Medical School and Seton’s new teaching hospital are now well underway, and our section of Red River Street has changed dramatically. Nursing students, faculty, staff and researchers now rub elbows with numerous surveyors, architects and construction crews. But amid the clouds of dust and monstrous earthmovers, we remain steadfast in our commitment to provide the best quality nursing education to our students and public health care to our community.

Welcome to our busy, productive home of learning, leadership, discovery and individual opportunity.

An Alumna Looks Back at the Past and Forward to the Future

norine_yukon-100x125“Thoughts on the University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing, Brackenridge Hospital and the New Medical School”

—Norine Yukon

My mother’s cousin was a general surgeon in Austin, and I started working for him when I was eighteen. Originally, he had me help out by preparing and sending out all his paper statements to patients and insurance companies.

You see, back then, we sent bills out once a month. Once a month! That would probably freak out any office practice manager today. The paper statements themselves fascinated me because each piece of paper told a story. Almost all his patients came to him initially for surgery, but a lot of them ended up coming back to him for years as a general practitioner.

Many of his patients had no insurance and no money. Some of them used to drive long distances to his office every week or month to bring him five or ten dollars and slowly pay their bill down. While they were there, he’d check them out, knowing that they were unlikely to seek any other medical care. So he figured he’d better go ahead and take care of them when they dropped in to make their payments.

And, after driving for so long, they loved to sit and talk to his wife who was also his receptionist, assistant and constant companion. She had a smile that beamed when you walked in the door, and you couldn’t wait to visit with her. Some folks came from farms in the Valley, and since she was crazy about fresh fruit, and he loved to make her happy — and loved to eat, too — he’d accept produce from patients to pay off surgical bills.

One time I was doing the monthly statements and said, “Hey, Mr. So and So brought in that bushel of cantaloupes last week; how much do you want me to knock off his bill?” He said, “That fruit was so sweet, go ahead and wipe out the whole bill.” I figured those cantaloupes ended up being worth about twenty dollars each. That happened a lot, but my cousin and his wife always had a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables at their office and in their house, which was okay by me.

His patients came to him for years, well after their original surgeries had healed. They liked his direct, gruff but sensitive approach and they loved his wife. She did almost every job in the office until her muscular dystrophy wouldn’t allow her to assist in the exam room any more.

They were together 24/7: at home, where I used to stay with them a lot while attending college; at his office, where they worked together for long hours; at the old Brackenridge Hospital, where the emergency room, intensive care unit and operating room staff knew her as well as they knew him.

She was in the surgery lounge, often at 3 or 4 a.m., because he was one of the on-call surgeons, which meant gunshots and appendectomies and crazy stories at all hours. His wife was always by his side, holding onto his arm, especially during the last several years when she couldn’t walk alone.

And he was happy to support her on his arm. He was a big bear of a guy who enjoyed having his lovely and sociable wife with him and he knew what a positive impact she had on all his patients. She was there in the hospital with him on rounds and she was the first face you would see when you came to his office for post-op visits.

Soon after I started working at his office, I found that I loved dealing with all the patients and their conditions — even the blood and guts — and so he taught me to help him in the exam and treatment rooms, which came in handy, especially when his wife got to where it was hard for her to stand up.

He told me I should consider going to nursing school, but I told him that I was pretty sure my assertive personality would get in the way. He would roll his eyes. I didn’t know why, but he started taking me to the Brackenridge emergency room and intensive care unit (ICU). He’d say, “Watch those nurses and tell me that they aren’t the smartest, fastest, most assertive people around.”

Of course he was right. He challenged me to get a job at Brackenridge as a ward clerk and then come back and tell him what I thought about nurses.

I got a job in the brand new coronary care unit (CCU) at the old Brack’s brand new wing. The unit was state of the art, all new and modern and bright. In spite of that, our big cardiac weapons were still lidocaine and defib paddles. It seemed like a lot of patients died.

In retrospect, I’m not sure what “a lot” means, but every death was so intense because every person who died was so precious to someone. That someone could be just one person there for them, or a few, or a mass of family and/or friends, but every single loss seemed painfully huge.

The minute a patient came to the unit, our team of nurses and helpers formed a relationship with them, and if there were no family or friends there, the nurses took over and our team became that someone for them. I saw a lot of people die, but thanks to our team, I never saw a person die alone.

My experience as a ward clerk sent me straight back to school to get a bachelor’s of science in nursing. I got that “golden ring” at the UT Austin School of Nursing, and my cousins took enormous pride in my career over the years.

So much has changed in the health care system during the decades that I have been immersed in serving others. But one thing has not: the power of compassion. Evidenced-based practice is essential to providing health services. Human caring and kindness extend that scientific knowledge to allow us to connect with our patients in ways that improve their engagement and their health outcomes. Compassion is what makes the science and art of nursing so powerful.

My mother’s cousin was a general surgeon in Austin, and his wife was his team member who kept his patients engaged. Together, they were amazing. The nurses I worked with in the ICU and CCU at Brackenridge were brilliant and kind.

I look back at all these individuals with respect, and I look forward to all the training at both the School of Nursing and the future Dell Medical School and new teaching hospital that is expanding on the same ground where I learned so much.

A lot has happened and changed on this property in Austin between 15th Street and MLK Boulevard. I am lucky to have learned my basics from some of the masters who helped make these grounds around here so special.

Norine Yukon grew up in Texas, Bermuda and Tokyo. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing and worked in an inpatient setting for nearly ten years. After becoming engaged in health care policy and the allocation of health care resources, her interests led her to the managed care industry, where she led several health plans. She began working for UnitedHealthcare in 1987 and then for Prudential HealthCare and the AMERIGROUP Corporation. Norine returned to UnitedHealthcare in 2009 and retired in May 2014 as the CEO of UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Texas, serving beneficiaries in Medicaid, CHIP, Long Term Care, and Dual Special Needs Programs.

Norine has served on the boards of several non-profit organizations, and she has been a volunteer for Meals on Wheels and a neonatal intensive care unit. She has lectured at universities in Texas, Arizona, and New Jersey, and been appointed by several governors to various task forces, advisory committees, and transition teams for health and human services. She currently serves on the Austin Meals on Wheels Board of Directors, the Texas Conference for Women Board of Directors, the Advisory Council for the UT Austin School of Nursing, and the Texas Exes Council.

Dell Medical School Construction Update

Things are changing here at the UT Austin School of Nursing. Seriously changing!

May 7, 2014: Two weeks after the groundbreaking for the Dell Medical School, Centennial Park becomes ground zero.

May 7, 2014: Two weeks after the groundbreaking for the Dell Medical School, Centennial Park becomes ground zero.

Once ground was broken for the Dell Medical School and a new teaching hospital on April 21, it’s been full steam ahead.

Parking lots have been ripped up. A few trees have been taken down. Roads have been closed. A park has disappeared.

May 14, 2014: Another week, another mound of dirt.

May 14, 2014: Another week, another mound of dirt.

And still we stand!

Here are a few photos showing the construction progress next door (which will be the hospital). The medical school will be across the street where the Erwin Center parking lot once was.

Check back in a couple of months for more information and photos of the progress.

May 30, 2014: Looks like all that rain over Memorial Day weekend brought the grass back to life. Notice how the large trees have "collars" around them. This is part of the process of relocating them. Big job!

May 30, 2014: Looks like all that rain over Memorial Day weekend brought the grass back to life. Notice how the large trees have “collars” around them. This is part of the process of relocating them. Big job!

Oh! And if you were concerned about the statues of the three muses that once graced Centennial Park next door, they were safely relocated to Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum near Zilker Park.

Background: Last year, the UT System Board of Regents committed $334 million for the construction. Additionally, the Seton Healthcare Family has committed $295 million — a portion of which will come from fundraising — to build a new 211-bed teaching hospital to replace the aging University Medical Center Brackenridge.

June 11, 2014: Still fairly green. And the mound of dirt keeps growing.

June 11, 2014: Still fairly green. And the mound of dirt keeps growing.

Seton Medical Center at The University of Texas will serve as the medical school’s primary clinical in-patient teaching facility and enhance services to residents of Central Texas.

The Joy of Service

“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.”

—Tagore

Dean of the UT Austin School of Nursing

Dean Alexa Stuifbergen

If you graduated from the School of Nursing within the last ten years, you received a burnt orange leather bookmark inscribed with this quotation. During your time as a nursing student, you learned not only the clinical and critical thinking skills necessary to become a competent health-care provider, but also, I hope, the joy that service can bring to one’s life.

Service is a huge part of the nursing profession, and I am pleased to see all of the volunteer opportunities our students take advantage of (and even create) each year.

From Longhorn School-bus to Explore UT to collecting clothing for the homeless and school supplies for patients at the Children’s Wellness Center, our student groups are active participants in numerous Austin-area events and charitable concerns. Their service can be as formal as holding office in a student organization to as personal as giving of their time to assist another student in understanding a concept from class or honing a clinical skill.

This past year, AE-MSN student Paul Bradley collected gently used purses for Handbags for Hope, which benefits domestic violence victims. BSN students hosted bake sales to support student scholarships, charity 5K teams and service projects. Members of the University of Texas Nursing Students Association assisted with flu shots and other hands-on care at the CD Doyle Clinic and hosted health fairs on campus. Undergraduates Brittany Castañeda and Clay Clark were named fellows of the Longhorn Center for Civic Engagement–City Hall and will work alongside Austinites to improve local neighborhoods.

This May, the School of Nursing is proud to confer 72 bachelor’s, 70 master’s, five post-master’s and four doctoral degrees. You cannot imagine how proud I am of each and every graduate as they walk across the stage. I cannot imagine how many lives their service is going to impact across the span of their careers.

I can only imagine what great joy will follow their service.