In honor of the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birthday and to advance nurses’ vital role in transforming health care around the world, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared 2020 the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife.
Then, a novel coronavirus, COVID-19, brought the world to a halt. True to form, nurses mobilized and battled this global pandemic from the front lines, delivering courageous care, skill, and compassion in the most dynamic of circumstances. As nurses were acknowledged on an international stage for their response to the coronavirus, the American Nurses Association (ANA) joined the WHO in extending the Year of the Nurse and Midwife into 2021. It is apropos that 2020 and 2021 are dedicated to nurses, as the time-honored reputation of the profession and nurses’ indispensable contributions to society are highlighted further by their continuing efforts in the fight against COVID-19.
This 2021 issue of Tribute magazine captures the historic work by our School of Nursing faculty, students, alumni, and
staff engaged in extraordinary heroism. Last year, these talented and dedicated individuals delved into treating COVID patients, organizing screenings, and developing a drive-through testing site with the goal of limiting the spread. This year’s efforts also include creating and running a state-approved hub for COVID-19 vaccinations and partnering with San Antonio Metro Health for mobile vaccination clinics.
The School of Nursing saw many individuals develop and contribute their talents and skills during this time. Under the leadership of Cindy Sickora, DNP, RN, vice dean of practice and engagement, and Lark Ford, PhD, MA, MSN, RN, director of the Vaccination Hub Clinic, the nursing school provided 159,137 vaccinations between December 2020 and May 2021. John Turner, MEd, director of business operations for the nursing school, facilitated and ensured the seamless operation of the massive undertaking of the COVID-19 vaccine clinic. Employees and students from across UT Health San Antonio have worked together to ensure vaccinations were administered in a safe, efficient, and highly organized manner. Teamwork was the heart of the entire operation.
The special “Responding to a Pandemic” package in this magazine demonstrates that the School of Nursing not only survived the COVID-19 pandemic but has thrived in each of our mission pillars—education, patient care, community engagement, and research. I am extraordinarily proud to share that the school’s staff, faculty and students contributed in their own invaluable ways during this crucial time.
The pandemic has provided a remarkable experiential learning opportunity for many of our students and will undoubtedly be recalled as one of the most unforgettable moments in our shared history. As 2021 continues, I am eager to see our students back in the hallways and classrooms, laughing and learning in person again.
I also look forward to celebrating the upcoming dedication and unveiling of the new “Light the Future” statue of Florence Nightingale, which will be prominently featured at the entry of our School of Nursing. Longtime Professor Kathleen Stevens, EdD, RN, ANEF, FAAN, and her husband, Alexander B. Hamilton, have generously donated the nine-foot bronze statue which will welcome students, faculty, staff, and alumni into our School of Nursing.
Together, we will Light the Future for our future nurse leaders and the communities they will serve.
Eileen T. Breslin, PhD, RN, FAAN
Dean and Professor
Dr. Patty L. Hawken Nursing Endowed Professor
School of Nursing
UT Health San Antonio