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STC’s Dr. Jayson Valerio, DNP is Included on the list of Inaugural Members of Healthcare Workforce Task Force

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Dr. Jayson Valerio, DNP is the Dean for the School of Nursing and Allied Health for South Texas College. He has over 20 years of experience as a registered nurse in the field of medical-surgical nursing and nursing education. Image Source: STC.edu. Bgd for illustration purposes
Dr. Jayson Valerio, DNP is the Dean for the School of Nursing and Allied Health for South Texas College. He has over 20 years of experience as a registered nurse in the field of medical-surgical nursing and nursing education. Image Source: STC.edu. Bgd for illustration purposes
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AUSTIN, Texas – Governor Greg Abbott and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) today announced the inaugural members of the Healthcare Workforce Task Force. The task force will address healthcare workforce shortages in Texas to meet the demands of our growing state and provide students with the skills they need to succeed.

“Health professionals across Texas work tirelessly to meet the needs of our growing state and provide high-quality care to their fellow Texans,” said Governor Abbott. “In April, I directed the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to address our state’s healthcare workforce shortage by maintaining sufficient clinical placement sites and retaining qualified clinical faculty so that students have the tools they need to succeed in this vital industry. Today, we’re announcing the inaugural members of the Healthcare Workforce Taskforce. This highly qualified group of experts, industry leaders, and individuals from Texas’ top-tier higher education institutions will ensure Texas can expand our healthcare workforce to meet the needs of all Texans for generations to come.”

Earlier this year, Governor Abbott sent a letter to THECB directing them to create a task force to address healthcare workforce shortages in Texas. In May, the Governor announced Victoria Ford, President and CEO of Texas Healthcare and Bioscience Institute, as Chair of the Healthcare Workforce Taskforce.

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“The task force and advisory members have exceptional expertise and experience,” said Ford. “I am looking forward to working with them through this process to identify strategies that will ensure Texas continues to grow a strong and robust healthcare workforce.”

The task force is comprised of knowledgeable experts and leaders that are representative of the various needs across Texas. Additionally, over sixty subject matter experts were selected from submitted nominations to participate as advisory members in substantive workgroups.

The Healthcare Workforce Task Force and advisory members will meet monthly and gather insights from state agency experts and additional healthcare stakeholders throughout Texas. The task force will issue a final report on October 1, 2024.

Dr. Jayson Valerio, DNP is the Dean for the School of Nursing and Allied Health for South Texas College. He has over 20 years of experience as a registered nurse in the field of medical-surgical nursing and nursing education. Dr. Valerio oversees 12 different nursing and allied health care programs across three campuses. He started at South Texas College in 2000 as faculty for the associate degree in nursing (ADN) program and in June 2011, became the program chair. In 2014, Dr. Valerio served as Instructional Specialist Workforce Educational Course Manual (WECM) Reviewer of nursing curriculum and as an Institutional Research Review Board Committee member for Mission Regional Medical Center. Dr. Valerio is active within the community, serving as the South Texas State Representative for Texas Team Coalition Academic Progression in Nursing (APIN), Texas Nurses’ Association, Texas Society of Allied Health Professions, Texas Deans and Directors of Professional Nursing Programs, International Nursing Association for Clinical Simulation & Learning, Advisory Panel for the University of Texas Center for Excellence in Aging Services and Long Term Care, and Board Advisory of the Philippine Nurses Association of South Texas Rio Grande Valley Chapter. In addition, he is currently a member of Sigma Theta-Tau International Honor Society, Chi Alpha Chapter, International Nursing Scholar Laureate, and Golden Key International Nursing Society. Dr. Valerio completed a Doctorate of Nursing Practice in Nursing Education Leadership at American Sentinel University. He has a Master of Arts in Nursing from Angeles University Foundation and Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of the Assumption.

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Avik Roy is President of the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity. He is nationally recognized as a thought leader on healthcare reform. Among other roles, he leads the National Institute for Health Care Management, serves as an Advisor to the National Academy of Medicine’s Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Fellowship, and is an Aspen Institute Health Innovators Fellow.

Cheryl Petersen is the Chief Nursing Officer and Vice President for Patient Services at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth. Prior to this role, she was Assistant Vice President of Nursing and Nursing Director with Cook Children’s for more than 20 years. Petersen has led her nursing team to a 4th Magnet Designation in 2016, a 5th Magnet document submission this past April, achieving an academic preparation of nurses at 84% BSN, maintaining nursing turnover less than 9%, and a certified nursing rate of 52%. She is a current member of the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, Texas Organization for Nursing Leadership (TONL), American Organization for Nursing Leadership, American Nurses Association, and Texas Nurses Association. Additionally, she served on the Communication and Membership Committee with TONL and currently serves on the Board of Directors for Community Healthcare of Texas. She received a Master in Business Administration from Benedictine University in Illinois and baccalaureate degree in nursing from the University of Iowa. She was honored as one of the Dallas-Fort Worth Great 100 Nurses in 2012.

Dr. Fred Cerise, Ph.D. is President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Parkland Health. Prior to joining Parkland Health, Dr. Cerise served as Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs at the Louisiana State University Health Science Center and New Orleans School of Medicine. He was the former Vice President for Health Affairs and Medical Education of the Louisiana State University System and Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals. Dr. Cerise began his career at the Earl K. Long Medical Center, advancing from the role of Assistant Program Director and clinical faculty member to Medical Director and later served as CEO. Additionally, he is a member of the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission, American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation, and Nurse Family Partnership and previously served on the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured. Dr. Cerise received a Bachelor of Science from the University of Notre Dame and a Master of Public Health from Harvard University and earned his medical degree from Louisiana State University. Dr. Cerise completed a residency in internal medicine at the University of Alabama.

Jack Dwyer is Founder of Dwyer Workforce Development. He previously founded Capital Funding Group and created a family of 11 companies that provide full-service, comprehensive financing and banking solutions. Dwyer, alongside his wife, formed The Jack and Nancy Dwyer Workforce Development Center, Inc., to improve the lives of senior housing residents and alleviate the negative societal effects of systemic poverty. The center provides job training and placement services, educational programs, and financial assistance within the skilled nursing and senior housing industries to unemployed or underemployed individuals. Additionally, he serves as a board member of the National Aquarium. Dwyer received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Widener University and is a certified public accountant.

Dr. Jackie WardDNP is the System Chief Nurse Executive and Senior Vice President for Texas Children’s Hospital. As Chief Nursing Executive, Dr. Ward has oversight of and responsibility for clinical workforce. Dr. Ward has been recognized as a leader on workforce issues and presented at national conferences in 2023 and 2024, respectively, on recruitment and retention strategies for a diverse workforce and what it will take to thrive in clinical leadership over the next five years. Dr. Ward has been a preceptor for new graduate nurses and support staff personnel. She also has experience in coordinating internal and external staff to assure that efficient patient flow processes and high-quality direct patient clinical care services are provided by nurses and unlicensed care support personnel.

Jamie Dudensing is the Chief Executive Officer of the Texas Association of Health Plans. She previously served as the Texas Capitol nurse, served two legislative sessions as the Health and Human Services Budget Analyst on the House Appropriations Committee, and was the Senior Advisor for Budget and Policy for former Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst. She later served as his Policy Director and Deputy Chief of Staff. Dudensing graduated from the Texas Tech School of Nursing and received a Master of Public Affairs from the Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas (UT) at Austin. 

Jennifer Deegan is Vice President of Health Policy and Systems Strategy at UTHealth Houston. Deegan has engaged in health policy issues throughout her career, including four sessions in the Speaker’s Office as Budget Director and Senior Health and Human Services Advisor. Prior to her time with the state, she worked as a French teacher. Deegan earned a bachelor’s degree from UT Austin and master’s degrees from Indiana University at Bloomington and the LBJ School of Public Affairs at UT Austin. 

Dr. John Zerwas is the Executive Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs at The UT System. In this role, he provides oversight and guidance for the five UT System health institutions and three medical schools at academic institutions. The UT Health System is one of the largest networks of academic health institutions in the country and is responsible for the education and training of a substantial number of Texas healthcare professionals. A physician for more than 30 years, Dr. Zerwas co-founded a Houston area group practice in 1996 that became part of US Anesthesia Partners in 2012. He remained active in the practice and operations until joining the UT System. From 2003 to 2008, Zerwas was Chief Medical Officer of the Memorial Hermann Hospital System and Chief Physician Integration Officer until 2009.

Kathy Thomas is the former Executive Director for the Texas Board of Nursing (BON). She previously served BON as Director of Nursing Practice, Nursing Consultant for Advanced Practice, and Education Consultant. Prior to joining BON, Thomas taught nursing as an instructor and assistant professor at UT Health Science Center at San Antonio in baccalaureate and graduate degree programs and practiced for 10 years as a pediatric nurse practitioner. Her educational preparation includes a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Virginia, a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP) Certificate from Fitzsimons Army Medical Center, and a Master of Science in Nursing from the University of Kansas. Additionally, Thomas served as the Nurse Licensure Compact Administrator for Texas and as a member of the Executive Committee of the Compact Administrators and Compliance Committee. She served as Chair of the Health Professions Council for 10 years. Thomas also served on several advanced nursing practice committees of the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), chairing the APRN Advisory Committee from 1995-2007. She was a member of the Joint Dialogue Group that developed the APRN Consensus Model: Licensure, Accreditation, Certification and Education. Thomas also served on the NCSBN Board of Directors as Director at Large, Area III Director, and President. She has been active in the NCSBN for 28 years and has received the top two awards from this organization: the R. Louise McManus Award (August 2002) and the Meritorious Service (August 1999). She is a member of Sigma Theta Tau, Epsilon Theta Chapter, and is a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing.

Dr. Lori Rice-Spearman, Ph.D. is the ninth President of Texas Tech University Health Science Center (TTUHSC) and first female President in the Texas Tech University System. She joined TTUHSC in 1987 and has held multiple leadership positions during her tenure. Most recently, she was appointed Provost and Chief Academic Officer in October 2019. The following month she agreed to serve concurrently as Interim President. Dr. Rice-Spearman led TTUHSC through an unprecedented global health pandemic. This required the transition of all on-campus academic instruction to online and a workforce of more than 5,000 on five campuses to remote operations. In 2016, Dr. Rice-Spearman was appointed Dean of the School of Health Professions and held the position concurrently when she was named the university’s Associate Provost in 2018. During Dr. Rice-Spearman’s tenure as Dean, the School of Health Professions added five “first-in-the-nation” accredited academic programs. The school also received numerous national awards recognizing the success of its 20 programs, including the inaugural Association of Allied Health Professions Excellence in Interprofessional Education Award in 2018. Before serving as Dean, Dr. Rice-Spearman held positions within the school, including Associate Dean for Learning Outcomes and Assessments and Chair of the Department of Laboratory Sciences and Primary Care. Dr. Rice-Spearman has numerous publications in peer-reviewed journals and is recognized nationally as an innovator in health professions education. She has served as an accreditation reviewer and site visitor for the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences and the Commission on Accreditation for Physical Therapy Education. She is an alumna of the School of Health Professions’ first class in the Clinical Laboratory Sciences program and earned her master’s and doctorate degree from Texas Tech University.

Olga Rodriguez serves as Chief of Staff and Associate Vice President of Texas A&M Health Science Center. In this role, she provides leadership and strategic counsel regarding innovation, development, and oversight of the strategic healthcare finance and healthcare delivery system growth across the Texas A&M Health colleges and oversees academic operations, campus operations, and information technology. Rodriguez has more than 20 years of experience leading change inside federal and state government, as well as non-profit organizations. She has served in various leadership positions at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and was a key advisor on health care policy, operations, and finance. Rodriguez also held leadership positions at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission Office of the Inspector General, Texas Department of State Health Services, and Texas Association of Community Health Centers. Rodriguez has extensive experience working with healthcare delivery stakeholders in Texas to transform health care policy and finance, including managed care organizations, health care provider associations, hospitals, clinics, and individual providers. In her role as Deputy Medicaid and CHIP Director for Policy, Rodriguez designed, developed, and operationalized new programs and healthcare delivery models while working with federal partners and state partners to develop the most cost-effective way to fund these new programs.

View the full list of advisory members here. 

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