Patient Resources

Transformational Leadership

A Year of Nursing Excellence

UT Southwestern’s nurses were once again honored for excellence when, on Sept. 15, 2021, the Medical Center earned redesignation as a Magnet organization from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Fewer than 9% of U.S. hospitals have earned Magnet designation, according to the ANCC’s Commission on Magnet. It is considered the ANCC’s highest honor, given only to health care organizations that design nursing goals to improve patient outcomes. Although UT Southwestern first achieved Magnet status in 2016, programs must reapply and be reevaluated every four years. UTSW’s appraisal, delayed by the pandemic, was in July.

The appraisal involved four areas of UTSW excellence, referred to as Exemplars.

The organization’s support of clinical nurses who volunteer in a population’s health outreach initiative:
Appraisers said during the on-site visit that nurses reported they had ample protective equipment and supplies, including special equipment purchased in response to clinical nurses’ requests.

Provide one example, with supporting evidence, of an innovation within the organization involving nursing:
Appraisers said nurses in multiple practice areas cited examples of suggestions they made for electronic health record changes that were then quickly acted upon and implemented.

Nurses’ participation in interprofessional collaborative practice to ensure coordination of care across the spectrum of health care services:
Appraisers noted exemplary support for nursing participation in interprofessional collaborative practices to ensure coordination of care across the spectrum of health care services, including all nursing functions in both inpatient and outpatient settings. Multiple examples were described supporting the depth of nursing involvement and collaboration.

Provide a synopsis of one completed institutional review board-approved (IRB-approved) nursing research study:
Appraisers said almost without exception that during meeting sessions and unit tours, there was some reference to a nursing research study that had either been completed and published by the clinical nurse or such a study was in progress.

Nurses are paving the way to elevate clinical excellence within our organization and beyond. Every day, our nursing teams begin with excellence and consistently aim even higher to fulfill our mission of patient-centric care. Nurses bring vision, influence, compassion, clinical knowledge, and expertise while influencing change throughout our world-class organization. By transforming our culture, nurses have cultivated an environment supportive of patients, families, loved ones, and staff. These values and beliefs shine bright throughout UTSW as we deliver the very best in comprehensive, quality care. UT Southwestern recognizes the leadership capacity of every nurse. Leaders exist at all levels of the organization and are vital to creating and sustaining a transformed culture that supports nursing excellence. As health care continues its path of rapid change, nursing has developed a solid leadership structure that supports the professional practice of nursing in all settings of the organization. Our nurses lead at every level through direct patient care and beyond, knowing that “excellence is our starting point, not our finish line.”

“Have a heart that never hardens, a temper that never tires, a touch that never hurts.” - Charles Dickens, Author
2021 PACT awards logo with female nurse in PPE working

PACT Awards

The PACT program recognizes employees who exhibit exceptional behaviors that achieve the goal of “excellence in patient care and customer service that we would be proud for our families, friends, and selves to receive.” The program provides a way for patients, co-workers, and physicians to recognize the PACT behaviors “on the spot” and is designed to create a culture of praise and recognition.

The PACT program is a campuswide initiative that goes on throughout the year and encourages employees, patients, and visitors to recognize staff and physicians for their demonstration of PACT standards, which are:

Problem Solving:
To achieve excellence in patient care and service, we take ownership for solving problems through innovation and discovery, developing solutions to the satisfaction of patients, customers, or managers.

Ability, Attitude, and Accountability:
We adhere to best practices in our daily work, honor the dignity and diversity of each person, and are accountable for our actions. We will appear and conduct ourselves in a professional and positive manner.

Communications and Compassion:
All of our communications are open, clear, timely, and delivered with respect and confidentiality. We are sensitive to the physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, and cultural needs of every individual.

We collaborate as one team to deliver patient-centered care with integrity, trust, and confidentiality. We value the exchange of diverse ideas.

Nurse PACT Awards

Nurses across the organization are recognized daily with PACT cards, submitted either electronically or on paper. In 2021, inpatient, ambulatory, and advanced practice nurses were honored in large numbers for receiving Blue (four recognitions), Silver (eight recognitions), and Gold (16 recognitions) Pin awards:

165 nurses received the Blue PACT Pin Award.

111 nurses received the Silver PACT Pin Award.

124 nurses received the Gold PACT Pin Award.

To nominate a nurse for the PACT award, email

Meritorious Service Awards 2021

UT Southwestern nurses are invaluable. An important part of our culture of excellence is to reward and recognize those who have gone above and beyond in providing excellent service and care to our patients. The Meritorious Service Award is bestowed annually to UT Southwestern staff who have provided extraordinary service and care to our patients and demonstrated an excellent work ethic and performance. These recipients exemplify PACT standards and serve as role models to the campus. Employees are recognized and nominated by patients, families, clinical or departmental staff, or leadership.

The 2021 nurse recipients were:

Brittanie Baskin, B.S.N., RN, CMSRN
10 Green CUH Med-Surg

Eva Camiro-Ruiz, B.S.N., RN
Solid Organ Transplant

Bridget Danso, B.S.N., RN, ONC

Kelsey Davidson, B.S.N., RN
Specialty ICU

Heather Degraffenreid, B.S.N., RN, CCRN
RN Float Level 5

Adriana Delira, B.S.N., RN

Jamie Del Valle, B.S.N., RNC-NIC
Neonatal Intensive Care

Kristi Denton, B.S.N., RN
Surgical Services

Loan Do, M.S.N., RN
7 Orange, Acute Surgical Unit

Caitlin Dunn, SN
Research Services

Corrie Eartham, SN
Research Services

Rosele Edralin, B.S.N., RN, PCCN
10 B CV Thoracic Surg

Rachel Garcia, B.S.N., RN, OCN
Oncology 11 Green

Meaghan Gibbons, B.S.N., RN, CCRN
Medical ICU Critical Care

Cole Givens, B.S.N., RN, CCRN
Neuroscience ICU

Kim Hoback, M.S.N., RN, CRN
Interventional Radiology

Christopher Honrath, A.D.N., RN

Stephanie Houser, M.S.N., RN, CCRN-CSC
ECMO Coordinator, Critical Care

Rebecca Hudson, B.S.N., RN, CCRN
CVICU Critical Care

Kirandeep Kaur, M.S.N., APRN, AGACNP-BC
Advanced Practice RN

Christina Kelly, B.S.N., RN, CCRN-CSC
Critical Care

Smitha Praveen Koduvath, B.S.N., RN

Mable Koshy, B.S.N., RN, PMHN-BC

Vickie Lamb, A.D.N., RN
Kidney and Liver Disease Management Clinic

Christina Ilao, B.S.N., RN
Acute Stroke Unit

Courtney Little, B.S.N., RN
7 Green Med-Surg

Dusita Marinaj, B.S.N., RN, CCRN

Sandy McKeever-Bench, B.S.N., RN, CNOR
Surgical Services

Anthony Meraz, B.S.N., RN, CCRN
Critical Care

Ashley Moody, B.S.N., RN
Unit-Based Education

Shauntel Oyewole, B.S.N., RN, CMSRN

Anisa Padani, B.S.N., RN
Unit-Based Education

Jayme Pelton, B.S.N., RN
Critical Care

Erin Pettyes, B.S.N., RN
RN Float Level 3

Sabitha Purayil, M.S.N., RN-BC, CMSRN

Maziar Rahimi, M.S.N., RN, CEN, BS
Emergency Department

Brianna Rhines, B.S.N., RN
Critical Care, Emergency Department

Blessy Robinson, B.S.N., RN, SCRN
Epilepsy Monitoring Unit

Lyra Rosos, B.S.N., RN
Telemetry 8

Ciji Saju, M.S.N., RN, CCRN, CNRN
Neuroscience ICU

Elizabeth Samuel, B.S.N., RN
CV Surgical

Esmeralda Sepulveda, M.S., B.S.N., RN, CCRN-K
Presurgical Testing

Kathrina Siaron, B.S.N., RN, CCRN, SCRN
Neuro ICU Clinical Research Nurse

Angelica Smith, B.S.N., RN
Surgical Services

Kinley Speir, SN
Research Services

Alyssa Tijerina, LE, SN
Research Services

Femin Thomas, B.S.N., RN, CMSRN
RN 6 Orange

Leticia Vargas, B.S.N., RN
Critical Care

Tamla Wells, B.S.N., RN, CCRN
Surgical Services

Sarah Wilson McNeil, B.S.N., RN

2021 DAISY Awards

To recognize our amazing nurses in direct patient care, UTSW has partnered with the DAISY Foundation, which established the DAISY (Diseases Attacking the Immune System) Award in memory of J. Patrick Barnes, who died at age 33 of an autoimmune disease. After witnessing the skilled, caring, and compassionate nursing Patrick received, the Barnes family created this national award as a way to say “thank you” to nurses. Any nurse working at UTSW can be nominated for the DAISY Award.

The award committee selects one nurse each month from a hospital or hospital-based clinic who exemplifies our mission. The recipient receives a DAISY Award pin, a Healer’s Touch hand-carved statue, and an award certificate. In addition, recognizing that excellence takes a team, the selected nurse’s unit receives a banner to post for the month and freshly baked cinnamon rolls for everyone on the day the award is presented.

DAISY honorees from UT Southwestern in 2021 were:

Sheeja Parachalil, B.S.N., RN

Sheeja Parachalil, B.S.N., RN
10 Blue

Not pictured:

Alice Leatherman, B.S.N., RN
Rapid Response Team

D Magazine 2021 Excellence in Nursing Awards

Each year, D Magazine honors excellence in nursing through an award recognizing nurses who have made a difference in the lives of their patients and colleagues. These nurses are nominated by their peers, co-workers, and patients.

Through a selection committee, winners were recognized in three categories: Direct Patient Care, Education/Research, and Leadership.

UT Southwestern is proud to salute our 19 recipients of the 2021 D Magazine Excellence in Nursing Awards. They are:

Direct Patient Care

Noel Beboso

Noel Beboso, B.S.N., RN, CCRN
2 Orange – Surgical ICU

Lauren Bereuter

Lauren Bereuter, M.S.N., APRN, AGACNP-BC
Advanced Practice Provider
Anesthesiology and Pain Management

Felicia Berno

Felicia Berno, B.S.N., RN-BC
Ambulatory Triage RN
Neurology Clinic

Rhyan Brown

Rhyan Brown, APRN, CPNP-PC
Advanced Practice Provider

Chacey Cunningham

Chacey Cunningham, B.S.N., RN
Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery

Heather DeGraffenreid

Heather DeGraffenreid, B.S.N., RN, CCRN
Nursing Services, Float Pool

Sara Gray

Sara Gray, B.S.N., RN, CCRN, SCRN
3 Orange, Neuroscience ICU

Kirandeep Kaur

Kirandeep Kaur, M.S.N., APRN, AGACNP-BC
Advanced Practice Provider
Internal Medicine – Pulmonary

Patricia Lee

Patricia Lee, B.S.N., RN, CCRN
2 Orange, Surgical ICU

Elena Lucas

Elena Lucas, B.S.N., RN, CCTC
Kidney and Liver Disease Clinic

Sarah Wilson McNeil

Sarah Wilson McNeil, B.S.N., RN
11 Blue – Bone Marrow Transplant and Hematology/Oncology

Sabitha Purayil

Sabitha Purayil, M.S.N., RN, CMSRN
Assistant Nurse Manager
12 Blue – Medical/Surgical

Laura Restall

Laura Restall, B.S.N., RN
Lead RN Transplant Coordinator
Kidney Transplant Program


DaiWai Olson

DaiWai Olson, Ph.D., RN, CCRN, FNCS
Director of the Neuroscience Nursing Research Center
Professor of Neurology


Angela F. Bazzell

Angela F. Bazzell, D.N.P., APRN, FNP-BC, AOCNP
Assistant Director, Advanced Practice Provider
Health System Advanced Practice Provider Administration

Kimberly A. Collier

Kimberly A. Collier, B.S.N., RN, CNOR
Director of Surgical Services
Outpatient Surgery Center Support

Jodi Lipps

Jodi Lipps, B.S.N., RN
Operating Room Assistant Nurse Manager
Surgery, Zale Lipshy Pavilion-William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital

Suzanne Stone

Suzanne Stone, B.S.N., RN
Manager of Nursing
Stroke Program Administration

Rebecca Tutt

Rebecca Tutt, B.S.N., RN-BC
Director, Ambulatory Nursing Operations

2021 Dallas-Fort Worth Great 100 Nurses

Sharron Coffie, M.S.N., RN, CNS, Director, Opioid Safety, Health System Quality Office

The Dallas-Fort Worth Great 100 annually recognizes 100 professional registered nurses who have been nominated by their peers, practice sites, families, and patients entrusted to their care. Each year, Great 100 honors excellence in the art and science of nursing across all practice areas, including acute care, sub-acute care, school nursing, nurse leaders, academics, and many more. Over the past 10 years, there have been 66 UT Southwestern nurses celebrated for their contributions to the nursing profession and communities they serve.

In 2021, UT Southwestern was honored to have one of our nurses receive this award.

2021 Diana and Richard C. Strauss Service Excellence Award Nurse Recipients

The Strauss Award recognizes employees from all clinical settings who exemplify excellent care and service in a professional and positive manner, dedication to teamwork, and compassion for patients, guests, and co-workers. The awards are presented quarterly throughout the calendar year.

Nurse honorees in 2021 were:

Saramma “Sara” Abraham

Saramma “Sara” Abraham, B.S.N., RN, CMSRN
Registered Nurse II, 6 Green
William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital

Sandy Diep

Sandy Diep, M.S.N., APRN, FNP-BC
Advanced Practice Registered Nurse
Kidney and Liver Disease Management Clinic

Tracy Heineman

Tracy Heineman, B.S.N., CCRN
Rapid Response RN
Patient Care Services

Maddy Jansen

Maddy Jansen, B.S.N., RN, SCRN
Clinical Nurse Supervisor
UT Southwestern Neurological Surgery

Leah Parker

Leah Parker, RN
Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery, 10 Blue
Clements University Hospital

Emily Pickett

Emily Pickett, B.S.N., RN
Registered Nurse II
Cardiovascular ICU at CUH

Cara Pulliam

Cara Pulliam, B.S.N., RN, CCRN
Rapid Response Nurse
Rapid Response Team

Sharon Williams

Sharon Williams, LVN
LVN Coordinator, Surgical Dermatology
Department of Dermatology

UTSW 2021 Nurse Excellence Awards

During Nurses Week, in May 2021, UTSW bestowed its sixth annual Nurse Excellence Awards. In all, 102 potential recipients were nominated by their peers for exemplifying what it is to be a role model, a leader, a compassionate caregiver, and a significant contributor who works to improve patient care and outcomes. Nominees notably make UT Southwestern and the community better through effective listening, inspiring others, actively participating, and showing devotion and compassion in caring for patients and their families.

The six categories are: Leader of Nursing Excellence, Ambulatory Nursing Excellence, Advanced Practice Nursing Excellence, Friend of Nursing Excellence, Clinical Educator of Nursing Excellence, and Frontline Care Provider of Nursing Excellence.

The six winners of the 2021 Nurse Excellence Awards were:

Leader of Nursing Excellence Winner

Shari Ann Dino-Vu, B.S.N., RN, CCRN, NE-BC
Nurse Manager, CUH 7 Green

Ambulatory Nursing Excellence Winner

Kimberley Brock, B.S.N., RN, CRRN
Cranial Neurological Surgery

Advanced Practice Nursing Excellence Winner

Edie Brucker, M.S.N., M.P.H., AGPCNP-BC
Simmons Cancer Center

Friend of Nursing Excellence Winner

Jessica Miller, M.H.A.
Director, Ambulatory Clinical Initiatives

Clinical Educator of Nursing Excellence Winner

Michelle Walsh, B.S.N., RN
Clinical Nurse Educator

Frontline Care Provider Nursing Excellence Winner

Anna Zita Alayon, B.S.N., RN, CNOR
Zale Lipshy Pavilion Operating Room

Clinical Awards and Achievements

Improving APP Engagement by Honoring the Best of the Best

The Office of Advanced Practice Providers (APPs) incorporates the specialty services of advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) and physician assistant (PAs). One of the goals set by a new committee formed in 2020, the APP Engagement Committee, made up of 23 APPs representing diverse professional groups and clinical practices, was to increase the visibility of the more than 850 APPs at UTSW.

“We aim to provide support to APPs through championing and participating in APP recognition and wellness – inextricably linked, both within and apart from direct work responsibilities, in alignment with UT Southwestern’s mission, vision, and values,” says Tyonn Barbera, M.B.A., APRN, ANP-C, committee chair. Since the committee was formed in October 2020, it has accomplished several initiatives, including organizing a unified APP celebration week with award nominations submitted across the five professional groups that compose APPs: PAs, Clinical Nurse Specialists, Nurse Midwives, Nurse Anesthetists, and Nurse Practitioners.

More than 100 nominations were submitted for the inaugural Achievement Awards for APP Celebration Week.

Five winners were selected:

Outstanding APP in Clinical Practice

Ha Nguyen, M.S.N., APRN, AGACNP-BC
Nephrology, Department of Internal Medicine

Outstanding APP in Scholarly Endeavors

Christy Hicks, M.S., APRN, WHNP-BC, FAUNA
Urogynecology and Pelvic Floor Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Outstanding APP in Teaching

Denise K. Link, M.P.A.S., PA-C
Nephrology, Department of Internal Medicine

Outstanding APP in Leadership

Carol Bjorkman, M.S., APRN, FNP-C
Cardiology, Department of Internal Medicine

Outstanding APP in Community Service

Elizabeth “Liz” Heyne, Psy.D., PA-C
Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine, Department of Pediatrics

Veronica Hernandez, CMOA

Other Honors and Recognitions

Good Catch Award 2021 from Health System Patient Safety Department:

Veronica Hernandez, CMOA
Ambulatory Float Pool

Leadership that Transforms

Nurse Manager Identifies Ways to Keep Top Talent

Nurse Manager, Allece Merchant, M.B.A., B.S.N., RN, NE-BC

In her role as Nurse Manager, Allece Merchant, M.B.A., B.S.N., RN, NE-BC, took an opportunity to conduct a job analysis of the Clinical Staff Assistant (CSA) role, responsible for front desk duties, referral work queue management, benefit verification, clinic scheduling, and record requests. Depending on the setting, turnover can happen for such support roles once employees recognize there is no place left to climb. Historically in the Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery Clinic, once staff members have achieved CSA III status, they often have felt the need to look outside the department to promote to CSA Coordinator. This reality was looked upon as a gap in the department’s succession plan and contributed to staff turnover.

It was determined that 50% of the Clinic Liaison job description was not applicable because the work tasks were nonexistent and the actual job tasks performed were more in line with a CSA role. Armed with this information, Ms. Merchant prepared a proposal that included a financial analysis to eliminate the Clinic Liaison position, shift the actual tasks performed to the CSA position, and create a new CSA Coordinator position. The goal of the proposal was to 1) align tasks with the appropriate job descriptions, 2) fill the gap in the CVTS department succession plan for CSA career advancement, 3) create an opportunity to retain top talent, and 4) enhance employee satisfaction.

With the changes Ms. Merchant put in place for her team, CSA III staff member Cynthia Ortiz, who had mastered her assigned duties and was ready to take on additional responsibilities to advance her career, was able to move into this newly created position. In February 2021, Ms. Ortiz accepted the offer of the new Clinic Staff Coordinator role and was promoted from CSA III. By creating this new position in the CVTS department, we were able to fill a gap in our succession plan and retain top talent.

Communicating as One Oncology Team

When our third Oncology Unit, 11 Orange, opened in William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital, nursing leadership paid close attention to the creation of a cohesive atmosphere. Coordinating placement for oncology patients became increasingly important as staff changes meant an oncology-trained nurse was not always available to provide specialized care. Because nurses and patient care technicians (PCTs) were floating between all three units, the leadership team agreed improving understanding and teamwork between them was vital to patient care.

Nurse leaders decided a combined staff meeting with 11 Blue, 11 Green, and 11 Orange would help them reach their goal. The meetings were recorded via Microsoft Teams for any staff member who could not participate at the set time. The aim to provide open and transparent communication between the three oncology units was achieved by sharing wins and wows, introducing new team members, and presenting educational materials. Broad communication not only created camaraderie across the three units, but nurses took on the initiative to coordinate without the assistance of unit leaders. As staff became more familiar with each other and the requirements of each unit, there was also the ability to float charge nurses to cover across the units when the need arose. By sharing staffing resources from all three units, the process ensured all patients received care from an oncology nurse.