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 Gloria Loera, D.N.P, R.N., NEA-BC, assistant professor for the Hunt School of Nursing.
The state of Texas is projected to face a shortfall of nearly 16,000 registered nurses by 2030, according to a 2017 report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Gloria Loera, D.N.P., R.N., NEA-BC, aims to lessen the shortfall through dynamic relationships in the community, and as an assistant professor for the Hunt School of Nursing at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso.
“Being a nurse allows you to impact the lives of individuals and communities. When you’re providing care, whether directly or indirectly, you’re impacting so many individuals,” Loera said.
A native El Pasoan, Loera joined the faculty at the Hunt School of Nursing as a lecturer in 2015 and transitioned to a full-time assistant professor in January 2018. She pursued an education and a career in nursing at the advice of her mother.
“I’m a first-generation college graduate. My original plan was majoring in biology to pursue medical school,” Loera said. “My mother completed her trade as a licensed vocational nurse, and seeing her personal fulfilment, as a nurse, inspired me to consider this profession. Although nursing was not my first career choice, I’m grateful for the advice my mother gave me in support of this decision. She shared countless stories of her experiences and how nursing allowed her to support people during their most vulnerable moments.”
Loera took prerequisites at Texas Tech University before transferring to Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Lubbock, where she graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2000. From there, she moved to Grand Prairie, Texas, where she worked as a registered nurse at Parkland Hospital in Dallas and Baylor Health Care System in Fort Worth. During this time, she attained a Master of Science in Nursing, Nursing Administration, from the University of Texas at Arlington in 2006. She returned to El Paso in 2008 to work for The Hospitals of Providence as a director of nursing. She completed her Doctor of Nursing Practice, Executive Leadership, at TTUHSC in 2013.
Loera has extended her impact beyond TTUHSC El Paso by forging relationships with the broader community. In 2016, Loera co-led the Upper Rio Grande Region of the Texas Team Campaign for Action Coalition in the El Paso region. The organization’s mission was to increase the number of nurses serving on medical boards and other committees, with the goal of reaching at least 10,000 by 2020.
“Nurses must also be active participants in their practice by participating in organizations and facilitating change,” Loera said.
The campaign also established the Texas Team Upper Rio Grande Nursing Fund at the Paso del Norte Community Foundation to support and advance nursing to ensure high-quality health care. Its objectives are to promote nurses practicing to the full extent of their education and training, higher levels of education and training through an improved education system, and creating partnerships with physicians and other health care professionals to redesign health care in the United States.
For Loera, being a full partner is more than just providing care. It means “demonstrating the art and science of nursing by caring for the whole person, not just the reason for them seeking care. As a nurse, you’re giving of yourself and sharing your vulnerabilities as a human being to demonstrate to the person on the other end that they can overcome the challenges they’re experiencing,” she said.
Students at TTUHSC El Paso, especially first-generation college students, may face challenges while pursuing an education in health care. Loera suggests open dialogue between students and their support systems.
“Many of our students have competing priorities. Along with being a student, they’re in various roles, including parent, spouse, and/or caregiver. Having the student engage in a crucial conversation with their family is imperative to their success,” Loera said. “Their support system must be aware of the demands of the nursing program so they can have the necessary support for their well-being and success. Students need to know they can ask for help. Faculty want them to seek assistance. Faculty can’t assist students if they don’t voice the issues they may be encountering, whether in the classroom or outside.”
She actively demonstrates this to her students through positive work and community relationships. Loera is an active member of the TTUHSC El Paso Faculty Senate and a recent alum of Leadership Texas. In August, she was appointed to the board of directors for the YWCA El Paso del Norte with a nomination from Jessica Christianson, vice president of the board and fellow Leadership Texas classmate.
“We must establish and maintain positive relationships with our peers to facilitate the best outcomes for our patients and communities.”