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LEARNING TO HEAL

Melissa Ortiz is currently working on her master’s degree in nursing. The UTB graduate uses holistic 
nursing practices in her position as staff nurse at Valley Baptist Medical Center – Brownsville.
Melissa Ortiz is currently working on her master’s degree in nursing. The UTB graduate uses holistic nursing practices in her position as staff nurse at Valley Baptist Medical Center – Brownsville.

UTB students advance in the nursing profession with bachelor’s and master’s degrees

Melissa Ortiz’s typical work shift as a staff nurse at Valley Baptist Medical Center – Brownsville involves being assigned a small number of patients to administer wound care, medication and pain treatment and address patient and family concerns.

“You are present, and you are a support person,” said Ortiz, 24. “Sometimes that’s all the patients can count on. You focus on the patient and see how other interventions can be tried and what the patient needs.”

Ortiz, a Brownsville resident, graduated in 2008 from Pace High School. She received an associate degree in nursing in May 2011 and the online Bachelor of Science in Nursing for Registered Nurses in May 2012, both from The University of Texas at Brownsville. Ortiz is currently working on a master’s degree in nursing at UTB and is scheduled to graduate in May. After graduation, Ortiz wants to pursue an online family nurse practitioner certification from Texas A&M University Corpus Christi.

UTB’s online nursing degree was developed with holistic nursing weaved into several of its classes including Foundations of Holistic Nursing, Health Assessment in Nursing Practice and Perspectives in Professional Nursing Practice. The students working toward this degree already have associate degrees in nursing and are working toward a fouryear degree.

“A good and short definition of holistic nursing would be any nursing that focuses on the whole person and healing the whole person,” said Sally Roach, an Associate Professor in the College of Nursing at UTB. “It’s just that simple. It focuses on the body, the mind and spirit.”

Ortiz said learning about holistic nursing, which can include meditation and focused breathing, has helped her build a positive environment for herself and her patients.

“You get to have a calmer demeanor in high stress situations,” said Ortiz. “When you learn about holistic nursing you begin to look at situations in a different way. You go in with a more positive attitude. That’s how you picture it. You walk in with a reassurance.”

UTB’s online nursing degree program received in 2011 the Excellence in Holistic Education award from the American Holistic Nurses Association. “You can’t always teach caring,” said Roach. “You have to have a certain amount of that ingrained in you. But sometimes you can help the student to be more aware of that through selfreflection and thinking about it. Selfreflection is a very important part of growing as a nurse.”

Registered nurses can seek a certification in holistic nursing from the American Holistic Nurses Association. The skills can be used in pain management centers, hospice facilities, hospitals, health and wellness centers and correctional facilities.

Starting this fall, the university will offer a traditional four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing. The application deadline for this program is Tuesday, April 1.

For more information on the College of Nursing, contact 956-882-5070 or con@utb.edu.

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You have to have a certain amount of that ingrained in you. But sometimes you can help the student to be more aware of that through selfreflection and thinking about it. Selfreflection is a very important part of growing as a nurse.

Sally Roach,
Associate Professor
Life & Health Sciences

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