UHV educator named as one of region’s top nurses

The Texas Nurses Association recently named Denise Neill, a University of Houston-Victoria nursing educator, among 20 outstanding nurses in the Houston region.

Denise Neill

TNA District 9 annually honors 20 exemplary Houston-area nurses. This year’s honorees were recognized recently at the TNA’s Texas Nurses District 9 Foundation 23rd annual Nursing Celebration.

“One of the nicest things that can happen is for your peers to recognize what you do,” said Neill, a UHV associate professor of nursing and coordinator of the Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. “To be able to say that my peers think what I do is significant is a great honor.”

Eligible for the distinction were thousands of nurses in the Houston region from every area of practice, including patient care, education, research and administration. Nominations came from peers, friends and family members of registered nurses. A selection committee then did a blind review of nominations and selected the final 20 honorees. They were chosen for several criteria, including their professional leadership and contribution, and their involvement in the community outside of work.

Past recipients of the honor include two other UHV School of Nursing faculty members – founding Dean and professor Kathryn Tart and assistant clinical professor Vivian Nowazek.

“That a third UHV educator has joined the ranks points to the strength of our School of Nursing,” Tart said. “It is just an amazing feat to be called one of the top 20 nurses in the Houston area with so many nurses concentrated there. Dr. Neill is well deserving. She is consistently level-headed and professional. She is an excellent educator and nurse.”

Neill has been teaching for 18 years and researches nurse workload and quality of care.

Kathryn Tart

“I am passionate about what I do,” Neill said. “I enjoy my job. I love my students, and if I weren’t a nurse, I don’t know what I would be. I wanted to be a nurse since I was 12 years old.”

In addition to teaching at UHV, Neill is a co-leader of the Gulf Coast Regional Texas Team, a nonprofit organization formed to advance health in Texas, and chair of the Lone Star Nursing Advisory Board, which serves the five Lone Star community colleges in the north and west Houston area. She also serves on the TNA’s audit committee and the UHV Faculty Senate’s executive committee. She is a past president of the District 20 TNA and the UHV Faculty Senate.

Neill said she enjoys the variety of responsibilities in nursing.

“There’s always a challenge; there’s always something new to learn; and there’s a lot of room for growth within the profession,” she said.

This summer, she was one of 40 educators nationwide selected as a 2013-2014 fellow of the Leadership for Academic Nursing Program presented by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. The prestigious program provides leadership training and professional development to fellows.

Born in South Arkansas, Neill grew up in the Houston area and began her nursing career at Southern Arkansas University. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Central Arkansas and completed her doctoral studies at Texas Woman’s University in Denton.

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.

Paula Cobler