Neill eagerly takes on challenge of nursing program expansion

Denise Neill

As demand for nurses continues to grow, so does the need for nursing education. And University of Houston-Victoria assistant professor Denise Neill is doing her part to make sure the two go hand in hand.

UHV is in the final recruitment stages of expanding its Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing program to Lone Star College University Center at Montgomery in The Woodlands. That means extra time meeting with health care partners, seeking out clinical affiliation agreements and more.

“We want these entities to know our program is there and available to their employees,” said Neill, UHV’s RN to BSN and Master of Science in Nursing program coordinator. “Right now, many hospitals in the greater Houston area are seeking magnet status and as part of that designation, facilities are seeking to increase the number of staff nurses that are bachelor’s prepared.”

The expansion is an exciting one for Neill, who has been with UHV since 2006. As one of the nursing program’s original faculty members, she said she enjoys watching the UHV School of Nursing continually grow into something new.

“It’s a challenge, always, to get everything in place,” she explained. “But this time is a little bit different. I’m not building a new curriculum because it already exists. It’s everything else that doesn’t.”

Aside from her duties with the nursing school, Neill also is active in both community and professional organizations.

The mother of two is past president of District 20’s Texas Nurses Association, a member of the DeTar Healthcare System Ethics Committee and Healthy Women Advisory Board, and a HOSTS mentor. She also belongs to both the Texas Nurses Association and American Nurses Association.

In addition, she serves as vice president of UHV’s Faculty Senate and will move up to president next academic year. Such involvement keeps her busy, but she said it’s important for people to make their voices heard.

“People are going to make decisions that affect our lives,” she said. “If we aren’t involved, we don’t have a voice in those decisions.”

The South Arkansas native grew up in the Houston area and began her nursing career as an associate degree nurse at Southern Arkansas University. She moved on to the University of Central Arkansas, where she earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees. She later completed her doctoral studies at Texas Woman’s University.

UHV’s latest expansion means Neill soon will relocate to The Woodlands, but she will return to Victoria weekly for meetings related to her Faculty Senate president duties. She said she doesn’t mind the travel since it’s always been a part of her time at UHV.

“We really are one program in multiple locations,” she said, explaining it takes dedication, travel and creativity to make that possible. “It requires that we be willing to use all modes of communication to stay in touch: phones, email, Adobe Connect - whatever it takes to keep people informed.”

And, while there’s still plenty to do in the coming weeks, she’s ready to meet it head-on.

“I enjoy the challenges,” she said. “It would be easy to be bored if we didn’t have new opportunities.”

The Faculty Feature is an online feature highlighting faculty members from each of the University of Houston-Victoria’s four schools. To nominate a faculty member, contact Paula Cobler, UHV interim director of marketing and communications, or call 361-570-4350.

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.

Allison Miles 361-570-4342