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Leaders view plans for new UT Health Services clinic.
Leissa Roberts, DNP, CNM, FACNM
Leissa Roberts, DNP, CNM, FACNM

Expanding access to the nurse-led UT Health Services clinics is one of Cizik School of Nursing at UTHealth Houston’s highest priorities, and leading the charge are two new additions to the practice team.

Professor Leissa Roberts, DNP, CNM, FACNM, will become associate dean for practice and community engagement as of October 30, 2021. On her team is Joy Harrison, DNP, MSN, RN, who became director of UT Health Services four months earlier.

Roberts will develop a new strategic plan for UT Health Services, which, in addition to offering primary care to individual patients, provides employee and occupational health services for all six UTHealth Houston schools and several large organizations in the Houston area. She will work to establish new ties within the community, especially in underserved areas, and identify opportunities for clinic expansion.

As director, Harrison is working to expand UT Health Services’ reach while maintaining and growing efficient, financially sound operations. Among Harrison’s first projects is overseeing the main clinic’s relocation from the 16th floor of UTHealth Houston’s primary administrative office building to a larger, ground-floor spot in the heart of the Texas Medical Center. Located in a building filled with mostly UT Physicians providers, the new nurse-led clinic is being converted from a previous bank branch. UT Physicians is the clinical practice of McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston.

“One advantage of the new location is that we will be more visible to patients and families who want to come here,” said Harrison, adding that workflow and parking/valet availability will be improved as well. “I also like the idea of being able to more easily collaborate with UT Physicians on patient care and on several projects.”

Roberts comes to Cizik School of Nursing from the University of Utah College of Nursing in Salt Lake City, where she most recently served as associate dean of faculty practice. A certified nurse-midwife, she held a variety of leadership roles in faculty practice and obstetrics nursing after joining the faculty in 1993. Her scholarship revolves around the Coping with Labor Algorithm, an assessment tool that she and colleagues designed to replace the 0-10 numeric rating scale for labor pain. The Coping with Labor Algorithm is used widely by hospital systems across the United States and internationally.

She earned her Master of Science in nurse-midwifery and her Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) from the University of Utah and her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Wyoming Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing, from which she received the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2016. In 2017, Roberts completed the American Association of Colleges of Nursing Wharton Executive Leadership Program. She is a Fellow in the American College of Nurse Midwives and received that organization’s distinguished service award in 2020.

Harrison brought to her new job three decades of experience within the Texas Children’s Hospital organization, advancing through the ranks from staff nurse to assistant director of regional operations for Texas Children’s Hospital Pediatrics managed services organization. She received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing from The University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston and earned her DNP in nursing executive leadership and administration from Cizik School of Nursing in 2019.

Banner caption: Dr. Joy Harrison reviews remodeling plans with Akber Mazhar, assistant director of operations for UT Physicians.

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