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2022 Excellence in Nursing Awards - Education

Photo of Mari Ann Lewis

Mari Ann Lewis
Manager, Clinical Education and Professional Development

From her nominator: “As an educator, Mari Ann doesn’t have the opportunity to perform direct patient care, but she impacts their care by navigating future nurses through the correct training and onboarding. Mari Ann leads those future nurses every day.

“At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mari Ann was a relatively new leader, and she leaned into what her mentors taught her about leading in a crisis. The pandemic pushed many different facets of the health care system into new ways of functioning – including education. Mari Ann took charge when the time came to switch classes from in-person to a virtual format very quickly. She helped design and execute new emergency training protocol for the screeners, outlined the education and training for nasopharyngeal swabbing for COVID-19 testing at UTSW’s drive-thru testing site, and helped train staff on the administration and documentation of the vaccines.

“In the past few years in her position, she has made a difference by preparing nurses for patient care and quietly in the background has improved more patient lives than if she was still directly caring for a patient at the bedside.”

Photo of Shinto Thomas

Shinto Thomas
Clinical Education and Professional Practice

From her nominator: “Shinto displays a fierce resolve to do whatever needs to be done in a thoughtful manner. It’s a personality quality that has garnered tremendous trust within her team. She has a unique talent, and she uses it for building cohesion within her units and teams. She continues to move her teams forward by making significant contributions as a leader.

“Shinto is a careful listener and responds to all situations with a thoughtful and immediate response, targeting the key issue at hand. Being thoughtful and having a measured response to each situation is an inherent characteristic of Shinto, and her demeanor immediately calms any situation and helps to facilitate the accomplishment of goals. She’s an inspiration to not only her team but her peers and leaders.

“Outside of the organization, she provided COVID-19 awareness sessions in her local community and church. She also helped to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to hundreds of front-line health care workers. Shinto is an agile leader and essential to supporting the needs of a complex hospital environment.”

Photo of Ashton Tolbert

Ashton Tolbert
B.S.N., RN
Clinical Nurse Educator
Ambulatory Clinical Education Team

From her nominator: Over the past two years, the Ambulatory Education team has grown in numbers and has taken on more responsibility. Ashton never hesitates to step up to support the team and others without being asked. She has increased her responsibilities to support the growing team and its responsibilities; these include precepting new educators, teaching CPR classes, and developing a curriculum for the new ambulatory RN residency track at UTSW. These additional responsibilities ensure the team can support more than 70 outpatient clinics on UT Southwestern’s Dallas campus and across the regional clinical centers. The number of clinics and clinical centers has also grown, and Ashton has provided specialized training and on-site support for the staff for the opening of the clinics and clinical centers.

“Ashton is able to think globally and looks at Ambulatory Services as a whole instead of what may be beneficial for one or two clinics. She is the unofficial leader of her team – other educators come to her for her expertise on many subjects, including the clinical ladder, policies, scope of practice, and evidence-based practice.”

Photo of Michelle Walsh

Michelle Walsh
B.S.N., RN
Clinical Nurse Educator
Ambulatory Services

From her nominator: “Michelle’s positive attitude is infectious, and it is easy to see why folks feel comfortable being trained by her. As a preceptor to other educators, she ensures that they are trained on the correct way to perform job tasks. Michelle has been the main facilitator and curriculum developer for a new Ambulatory nurse residency track, which started its first cohort in August 2021. She provided a great service to the community through her involvement with UTSW’s vaccination operations. Throughout the pandemic, Michelle spent countless hours, nights, and weekends answering emails and questions with a continually positive and joyful attitude. While providing all this additional coverage, Michelle has exceeded all expectations while continuing to meet the goals of her ‘day job.’”

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