The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated 2020 as the Year of the Nurse for the vital role they play in providing health services. TTUHSC El Paso joins the WHO in a year-long effort to celebrate the work of nurses and highlight the challenging conditions they often face in the workforce. In celebration, we invite you to get to know some of our Hunt School of Nursing faculty who are shaping the future of health care for the Borderland. They are dedicated to excellence and committed to care.
This month’s highlight features Clarissa Silva, Ph.D., R.N., an assistant professor for the Hunt School of Nursing.
“Nursing is a profession, not a job. It will test you in a every way possible. You will come home tired. You will work shifts that take you away from your family on holidays and weekends; however, in doing so you will be revered by the community,” said Clarissa Silva, Ph.D., R.N., an assistant professor for the Hunt School of Nursing.
At the age of 18, Dr. Silva was unsure of what she wanted to do with the rest of her life, but she did know she wanted to make an impact.
“I knew one day, I wanted to teach,” she said. “I went into nursing because I knew I would have an opportunity to teach my patients and their families. My career has evolved over time with more education, and I’m realizing my dream to teach nursing students.”
Dr. Silva received her Bachelor of Science in nursing from the University of Texas Health Sciences Center at San Antonio and her Master of Science in nursing and doctorate in higher education from the University of the Incarnate Word.
Her didactic career in nursing education began when she joined the faculty of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso in March 2017. Previously, she had 40 years of nursing experience in the areas of medical-surgical, telemetry, step-down units and emergency nursing, with 16 years of administrative nursing experience and eight years as a director of education in the clinical environment.
“Teaching takes care, endurance, dedication, patience and time,” she said. “I spent many hours developing my courses and taking time to help students understand course content and objectives.”
For Dr. Silva, the time and effort spent on her students and teaching is gratifying as a nursing and education professional.
“My greatest joy is when I see my students understand the information we teach them, and they start to think like a nurse. I truly believe we’re shaping the future of our nursing students, and this has made my contribution to the nursing profession come full circle.”
As part of her pedagogy, Dr. Silva emphasizes research-based care and collaboration with fellow faculty and students.
“Research opens the door to change in the way care is administered to patients. Helping students understand the care they provide to patients needs to be supported by evidence. It keeps patients safe and helps nurses provide quality care,” Dr. Silva said. “The faculty work as a team to provide the best educational experience for our students. We truly care about our students and each other.”
Her caring demeanor and willingness to go above and beyond for her students and university is evident by her involvement in professional activities on and off campus. Dr. Silva previously served two years as the president of District I for the Texas Nurses Association. She currently serves as a committee member for the following TTUHSC El Paso committees: the Simulation Education Conference Planning Committee, Faculty Senate Research Resources Committee, Library Committee and Faculty Senate Committee.
In 2021, she is slated to be president of both the Hunt School of Nursing Faculty Council and TTUHSC El Paso Faculty Senate, which coincides with TTUHSC El Paso’s celebration of the school of nursing’s 10-year anniversary. The past 10 years have seen many changes in nursing and health care, none more than the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on students and teaching.
“Our nursing students will be graduating during a time of pandemic,” Dr. Silva said. “They will be met with challenges which will test their patience, endurance and dedication. The biggest challenge will be to remain in nursing when others are leaving.”
A nurse who will not be leaving the profession is Dr. Silva. Her dedication to others and the community provides a sense of purpose and pride.
“Nurses are highly respected, and that respect gives you a sense of pride,” she said. “There is nothing like helping to save a life. Nurses will always be needed by society.”