School of Nursing Alumni Association Awards and Inductions
2012 Distinguished Alumnus Award Recipient
COLONEL KAREN L. WEIS (Class of 1997)
Director, Division of Nursing Research
Lackland AFB TX
Colonel Karen Weis was born and raised in Salina Kansas and attended Wichita State University, Wichita, Kansas where she received her Bachelor’s in Nursing Science in 1986. She was commissioned into the United States Air Force as a Second Lieutenant upon graduation and has been stationed throughout the world.
She has held positions as a Clinical Nurse on Labor and Delivery and Medicine units; Nurse Manager and Flight Commander of various Birthing Centers and was the Deputy Squadron Commander for the Maternal Child Squadron, Wilford Hall Medical Center, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. She was a flight nurse and the Officer in Charge of Aircrew Training at the 2ndand later 86th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron. While assigned there, she flew missions across Europe, Asia and Africa and was the first nurse on the ground to evacuate patients in Sarajevo as well as the first nurse to support one of NASA’s Transabortic Landing sites in Marrakesh, Morocco.
She deployed to Seeb Oman in support of OPERATION Desert Shield/Desert Storm, was the Chief Nurse at Eskan Village, Riyadh Saudia Arabia for OPERATION Northern Watch, the Chief Nurse for TASK FORCE Med, Bagram Afghanistan, OPERATION Enduring Freedom, and she just returned from her second deployment to Afghanistan where she was the Director of the Joint Combat Casualty Research Team.
During the most recent deployment she was responsible for oversight of over seventy research protocols across Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait. She led a 12-member team responsible for Human Protection requirements for in-theater research efforts. Prior to deployment, Colonel Weis was the Dean of the United States School of Aerospace Medicine where she directed enlisted, officer and graduate medical education for over 6,000 students annually attending over 100 resident and non-resident courses.
Colonel Weis received her Masters in Nursing Science from University of Texas Medical Branch and was a member of the first class of Acute Care Nurse Practitioners students. She received a PhD in Nursing from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
She has received over id=mce_markerM in federal research funding and recently co-authored the third edition of “Psychosocial Adaptation to Pregnancy with Dr. Regina Lederman. Her research led to some of the only findings related to maternal stress and anxiety to birth outcomes for women with deployed spouses. These findings guided the development of the Mentors Offering Maternal Support Program, an intervention aimed at decreasing stress and promoting maternal adaptation within a military population. She is currently the Director of the Division of Air Force Nursing Research within the San Antonio Military Medical Community, the Air Force’s largest military medical network.
Colonel Weis is a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing. Her military decorations include the Bronze Star, a Joint Commendation Medal, four Meritorious Service Medals, an Aerial Achievement Medal, three Air Force Commendation Medals, the Air Force Achievement Medal, and a Joint Meritorious Unit Award. Colonel Weis is married to Mr. Michael Weis of Perryton, TX. They have one son Matthew Weis.
2012 President’s Award Recipient
Ruth L. Constant, Ed.D., MSN, CHCE, FHHC (Class of 1966)
Dr. Constant has more than 45 years of nursing experience in home health care. She set up and developed the first Home Health Agency in Texas certified under the Medicare program in July of 1966. In 1969, she founded and continues to serve as President/Administrator for Beaumont, Port Arthur and Wichita Home Health services. She directs activities of approximately 800 employees.
In 1969, Dr. Constant became a Charter member of Texas Association for Home Care and later a Charter member of the National Association for Home Care & Hospice where she became a Certified Home/Hospice Care executive and was one of two nurses appointed by Governor, John Connelly, to serve on the Governor’s Task Force for Mental Health Planning for the state of Texas, 1963-1966. She served on their Board of Directors from 1964-1970.
Dr. Constant worked with Dr. Roland Bing of Victoria College and developed the Associate Degree Nursing Program and was the initial Director of program from 1975-1979. In 1975, she co-founded Hope of South Texas (Suicide/Crisis Prevention Center) and currently serves on the Board of Directors.
1983, Dr. Constant was appointed by Governor Mark White to the Governor’s Home Health Advisory Council for the State of Texas. She was named a Founding Fellow of the National Foundation for Hospice and Homecare and currently serves as chairman.
Dr. Constant received the Texas Association for Home Care Ida Mae Hebert Meritorious Award in 1992. She has served on the National Association for Homecare Board of Directors in different capacities from 1983 to present and named Administrator of the Year in 1990.
Additional awards and recognition include Rotary Outstanding Vocational Achievement Award recognizing her for contributions to health care on a regional, State and national leadership level. She was named Outstanding Health Care Practitioner of the Year by the Victoria Chamber of Commerce, received Distinguished Citizen Award from the Boy Scouts of America, South Texas Council, elected to the Board of Directors of the National Caring Institute founded in 1985 to honor and promote the values of caring, integrity and public service. Dr. Constant was elected to the NAHC Hall of Fame in 2011 and was recently appointed to the Victoria College Foundation Board of Directors where she is currently serving as President.
Dr. Ruth Constant’s credentials reflect a leader determined to make a positive impact on the human need for healing through caring as a professional nurse.
2012 Hall of Fame Inductees
Dana Bjarnason, RN, NE-BC, PhD (Class of 2007)
Dr. Bjarnason serves as the Associate Administrator & Chief Nursing Officer for the Ben Taub General Hospital and Quentin Mease Community Hospital in Houston, Texas. She holds a doctorate in nursing from the University of Texas Medical Branch Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, awarded in 2007.
Dr. Bjarnason is active in a number of professional nursing organizations including the Sigma Theta Tau International, where she serves as an elected member of the Board of Directors. In Houston, she serves as president of the Texas Nurses Association (TNA) District 9 which represents over 39,000 nurses in eight counties. At the state level, Dr. Bjarnason serves as the chair of the TNA Practice Committee.
In 2010, Dr. Bjarnason was named as one of 20 outstanding nurse leaders in the Houston area by TNA District 9. In March 2011, she was awarded the 4th Annual Excellence in Nursing Leadership Award by the Texas Organization of Nurse Executives.
In addition to numerous professional presentations, Dr. Bjarnason has co-authored peer-reviewed articles for professional journals and recently edited an edition of Critical Care Clinics of North America focusing on disaster response. Her doctoral dissertation explored the relationship between nurse religiosity and end-of-life care, which built on her master’s thesis which sought to provide insight to further understanding and enhancing the nurse-patient dialogue related to end-of-life.
In addition to healthcare regulation and accreditation, Dr. Bjarnason is committed to working with nurses to create environments that enhance patient care. Her interests include patient self-determination, advocacy, professionalism, practice, moral leadership, and diversity.
Catherine Ivash, MSN, RN-BC, CNS (Class of 1994)
Catherine Ivash received her Masters from University of Texas Medical Branch School of Nursing in 1994 and has had a career at UTMB spanning almost 30 years.
She is a CNS in Medical/Surgical Nursing, and has worked with Medical/Surgical and ICU patient populations. She has vast experience in the fields of Nursing Clinical Education, Practice, Patient Education, program development and project management.
Ms. Ivash specialized in the field of Nursing Professional Development and is best known for successful outcomes in leading dynamic New Graduate Programs for RNs, as well as for her work managing the UTMB Patient Education program.
Over 1000 nurses completed the UTMB Internship program Ms. Ivash developed, and many also completed the one-year UHC/AACN post-baccalaureate Nurse Residency she managed, one of four programs recognized nationally by the UHC as a “consistent better performer”. Ms. Ivash’s teaching mantra is “creativity with meaningful outcomes”, utilizing techniques such as artistic expression and learning through reflective writing. Participants have narrated their growth through clinical exemplar, excerpts from “blogs”, and even through poetry.
Ms. Ivash was responsible for operational management of the Patient Health Education Office at UTMB and is frequently asked to consult in issues regarding patient education. She developed a proposal for an online library of Patient Education materials before many such resources were available, and overcame numerous barriers to create a Patient Health Education website. Starting with fewer than 30 publications, the site grew to more than 700, and she identified standards, reviewed, and edited each publication.
Ms. Ivash served as chair of the Interdisciplinary Patient Education Committee, developed policy, and designed an interdisciplinary documentation tool for Patient Education.
Ms. Ivash has led numerous initiatives, and contributed as a prior leader/member of many institution-scope CPI teams, committees, and Shared Leadership Councils. As an “interim assignment” that lasted more than 2 years after Hurricane Ike, Ms. Ivash managed the UTMB Life Support Education Lab, one of the busiest AHA Training Centers in Texas. Early in her career, she was responsible for clinical study protocol management and research coordinator training for the UTMB Clinical Studies Unit.
Ms. Ivash has served as a team member and leader at the unit, department, and institutional level. Awards include:
- Good Samaritan Foundation, 2011 Gold Medal Award Winner for Nursing Education (Clinical).
- UTMB Professionalism Charter Grant Recipient (2010), Training for Ethics and Professionalism in Clinical Decision Making; S. Evans, E. Adriance, C. Ivash
- “Best Poster Presentation” Award; Sixteenth Annual International Nursing Computer and Technology Conference; Benefits of an Intranet System for Distribution of Patient Education Materials.
2012 Recipients of the Betty Lee Evans Nursing Excellence Award
Charles (Chuck) Machner RN, BSN, CCRN (Class of 1994)
Mr. Machner is a graduate from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston School of Nursing Class of 1994. He began his nursing career at UTMB that same year as a critical care nurse in the Medical Intensive Care Unit (MICU). Chuck received his specialty certification in critical care in 1997 and gradually began to advance as a nurse clinician.
Mr. Machner has been a member of the American Association of Critical Care Nurses since 1997. Over the span of his employment at UTMB, he became involved in various committees sponsored by nursing service. Many of these were aimed at improving the quality of care provided by nurses at the bedside. In 2004, he became involved as Co-Chair of the Workplace Council. A nursing shared leadership committee, this group focused on improving the environment in which our nurses work and advocating on their behalf.
In 2007, UTMB Executive Leadership asked him to serve on the newly formed UTMB Employee Advisory Council. Mr. Machner was then elected to participate as a member of the larger UT System Employee Advisory Council in 2008 as one of two UTMB representatives. While in the nurse clinician role, he served as preceptor to many graduate nurses hired into the MICU. In that capacity, Mr. Machner has been able to provide these graduate nurses with the strong foundation needed as they transitioned into their new role as an intensive care unit registered nurse.
By 2009, Mr. Machner had begun to assume more leadership responsibilities and transitioned to Nurse Manager of the MICU/CCU. In this capacity, he continues to be a strong advocate for the nursing profession as well as the patients and families he serves.
Scott Woodby RN, BSN, CCRN (Class of 1997)
Scott Woodby, Nurse Clinician V., has served as a nurse clinician in the MICU/CCU at UTMB Galveston since graduating from UTMB School of Nursing in 1997.
Mr. Woodby has spent the entirety of his nursing career as staff nurse in the MICU/CCU, progressing through the clinical ladder to earn his current Nurse Clinician V status. Throughout his career, he has served as a preceptor and mentor to nursing students, new nursing graduates as well as newly hired employees. He has served and coordinated numerous nursing, as well as multidisciplinary, committees and workgroups to improve patient care delivery, work place environment and nursing work flow.
Mr. Woodby has completed evidence based initiatives such as the creation of an Intra-Aortic Balloon Pump Standard of Care and the implementation of a Standardized Bedside End of Shift Report. He has served as an officer in such professional organizations as the Galveston Chapter of AACN.
Mr. Woodby has been the recipient of multiple nursing awards highlighting excellence in nursing care. These awards include the 3M Healthcare Excellence in Clinical Practice Award, Good Samaritan Bronze Award, Preceptor of the Year Award and the Daisy Award.