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Lighting the way for nursing leaders

Educational programs guide students to success

Lighting the way for nursing leaders
Lighting the way for nursing leaders
Led by Linda M. Brown, PhD, the Ambassador program at Cizik School of Nursing trains students like Isabelle "Gracie" Ruiz, BSN '22, to become confident nursing leaders.

In the next 10 years, more than 25% of nurses are expected to retire, while an aging population will need increased health services, requiring even more nurses.

With its Ambassador program, Cizik School of Nursing is helping to address the growing nursing shortage. The program trains confident, empowered nurse leaders to care for our communities and educate future nurses. Undergraduate students with a high grade point average can apply, and as of the summer of 2022, 116 students have benefitted from this opportunity.

The program offers structured, hands-on activities to develop communication, leadership, and teamwork skills. Students learn integral topics ranging from managing instability in the workplace to interprofessional collaboration.

“It has made me a better nurse, a better advocate for my patients, and a better person,” says Isabelle “Gracie” Ruiz, BSN ’22.

A highlight of the program for Gracie was the Power of Nursing course, which examines perspectives and values in nursing.

"You learn how nurses can empower people, but to do that, first you have to learn how to empower yourself. There was a lot of reflection, and it was very eye-opening,” Gracie says. “I now have a more holistic view of care. It’s not just about giving the patient their medicine and changing their IV bag. The mind and emotions also need to be healed when someone is sick.”

Mentoring and networking opportunities enable students to find key professional support.

"Everyone was so incredibly compassionate. I can contact any of them with questions or for help,” Gracie adds.

In 2016, commitments from Deborah “Debbie” Garrett Adams, BSN ’84; Emily Marye, MSN ’13; and Jordan Marye established the Ambassador program, which was bolstered by the UTHealth Houston community in 2021 and 2022 on Giving Day—a 24-hour period where community members come together to advance university initiatives.

Thanks to an additional commitment from Debbie, the program began expanding. In the fall of 2022, the Ambassador program began transitioning into the Deborah Garrett Adams Leadership Academy, which will include graduate students.

"With this larger program, we will help even more students develop needed leadership skills so that they can be an important voice for their patients and teach others to do the same,” says Linda M. Brown, PhD. "The Ambassador program, and now the Leadership Academy, would not exist without philanthropic support.”

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