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 Lizette Villanueva, Ph.D., R.N., an assistant professor for the Hunt School of Nursing.
Some people collect baseball cards, others may collect antiques. For Lizette Villanueva, Ph.D., R.N., assistant professor for the Hunt School of Nursing at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso, it’s collecting college degrees. With two bachelor’s, two master’s and a doctorate, Dr. Villanueva is a higher education magpie, passionate about nursing and education.
She began her academic career at Texas Tech University, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish in 2001. From there, she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in nursing from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Lubbock in 2003.
Her career in nursing came from a deep need to help others.
“I always knew I wanted to help people, I just didn’t know how,” said Dr. Villanueva. “When I pursued nursing, I fell in love with the patients and families – especially the Spanish-speaking population. I could see myself in them. I could see my family in them. I could see how I could serve them.”
As a servant leader, Dr. Villanueva continued her studies in graduate school. In 2007, she received her Master of Education from Stephen F. Austin State University. She returned home in 2008, where she worked at the Child Crisis Center of El Paso as a registered nurse and at Ysleta Independent School District as a health science teacher and nursing instructor, all while completing her Master of Science in nursing from the University of Texas at El Paso.
After becoming faculty at Anamarc College and El Paso Community College, she went on to obtain her Doctor of Philosophy in curriculum and instruction from New Mexico State University in 2015. In 2016, she joined the faculty of the Hunt School of Nursing as an assistant professor, where she’s fulfilling TTUHSC El Paso’s mission to create more educational opportunities for Borderland residents. Currently, 75% of students from the Hunt School of Nursing are El Paso natives, a trait Dr. Villanueva shares with her students.
“I’ve been blessed to be a part of community outreach and community building in El Paso as nursing faculty. It’s been an honor representing TTUHSC El Paso.”
Educating future health care heroes in the Borderland has made Dr. Villanueva hyperaware of the challenges students face.
“Right now, the students’ biggest challenge is COVID-19, but I feel that students have transcended the typical ‘traditional’ student labeling. They’re non-traditional. Our students have families, are single parents, are veterans, are caregivers, are sole breadwinners, and it’s a challenge of balancing not only a 16-month strenuous program in nursing, but also being present on a daily basis in other roles they share outside of school. “
When she’s not teaching or mentoring students, Dr. Villanueva serves on numerous committees and boards aimed at transforming higher education for the better. She currently serves as the Hunt School of Nursing Curriculum and Program Evaluation chair, on the Social Justice Curriculum Task Force, Office for Outreach and Community Engagement Task Force, Desert Mountain Area Health Education Center Board Member, and TTUHSC El Paso’s Council on Diversity and Inclusion and Academic Council.
“I’m honored to work and collaborate with a group of people who share a love for nursing and nursing education.”