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Three UTSW employees win Regents’ Outstanding Employee Awards

Regents' Outstanding Employee Awards banner is pictured.
From left: Tomas Armendariz, Wendy Bishop, and Julia Rand

Congratulations to the UT Southwestern Medical Center winners of the Regents’ Outstanding Employee Awards (ROEA), selected by the UT System Office of the Chancellor and UT System Administration executive officers from submitted nominations.

This annual award program recognizes full-time, benefits eligible, nonfaculty employees that have “shown outstanding performance, innovation, enthusiasm and dedication in their job,” regardless of their role. It is given to 30 recipients from among the 14 UT System institutions plus the UT System Administration.

The winners will be recognized at a special ceremony and luncheon on May 14 in Austin. Below are some comments from the nomination forms of these exceptional UTSW employees.

Tomas Armendariz, B.S.N., RN

Manager of Apheresis, Zale Lipshy University Hospital

Mr. Armendariz's nominator, Tsedey Melaku, Director of Nursing Informatics: "He is a respected patient advocate and exceptional team player. He is known for his critical thinking skills and high emotional intelligence, which make him an asset when it comes to managing patients and staff. His physician colleagues seek him out for his problem-solving skills and leadership ... Tomas has served as the Co-chair and Chair of the Nursing Informatics Committee. During his tenure, he led many projects that enhanced the image of UTSW. While serving as chair, UTSW was undergoing a Magnet site visit. The Magnet appraisers met with members of the Nursing Informatics Committee and asked questions related to the innovative use of technology at UTSW. Tomas was a key player in this meeting and impressed the survey by describing one of the projects on the Apheresis Unit.

Shelli Chernesky, former Apheresis Manager: “As the apheresis manager for the clinic, his actions set the culture and expectations for others on the team to follow ... [His] vision is for each patient’s care to be individualized, comfortable, and with no delays ... [He] was instrumental with implementing call-ahead communications to increase the opportunity for patients to ask questions and screen patients for upcoming procedures. He volunteers at his local church and has instructed basic first responder classes for a church’s leadership in the use of CPR and implementation of the new automated external defibrillator that the church purchased. He has represented UTSW by being awarded the DFW Great 100 Nurse award in 2017, a D Magazine Excellence in Nursing Recipient in 2017, and a DFW Employee of the Year nominee for UTSW.”

Lisa Dalton, Director of Clinical Ancillary Services: “He is a respected team player who exhibits compassion, integrity, and fairness in addition to being an advocate for both patients and colleagues. Not only is he an exceptional nurse as evidenced by his caring and compassionate demeanor; commitment to service excellence; and strong critical-thinking skills, but he also thrives to create a positive and energetic work environment for staff through creative opportunities to advance staff professionally and boost morale ... Tomas not only communicates information clearly to his patients and staff, but more importantly he is a great listener for patients, families, caregivers, staff and faculty. Through solid communication skills, Tomas stands strong as a patient advocate whenever indicated.”

Wendy Bishop, M.S.

Senior Research Manager, Department of Clinical Sciences

Ms. Bishop’s nominator and supervisor, Dr. Celette Sugg Skinner, Professor and Interim Chair of Clinical Sciences: “Ms. Bishop is an exceptional manager who took initiative to create a new job family in the UT System to reward and retain staff members … [She] has worked to engage employees to increase job satisfaction and productivity … [She] has helped faculty members become better leaders and managers … [Her] deep concerns about vulnerable individuals in our community have led to innovative actions to address disparities.” 

Suzanne Farmer, Assistant Vice President, Organizational Development and Training: “Wendy Bishop typifies the ‘above and beyond’ performance and passion that this prestigious award was designed to recognize … Her quick strategic insight, and willingness to provide innovative methods, has positioned this initiative and its outcomes to be published and recognized widely for its inventive and robust measurement approach. Wendy’s mantra throughout the whole design process has been that we are a research institution, and as such, we should treat everything we do with the care, precision, and excellence applied as if we are publishing the results in a refereed journal.”

Katharine MCallister, Population Science Project Coordinator; Emily Marks, Population Science Project Coordinator; and Joanne Sanders, Population Science Data Analyst: “Wendy has been the creative force behind our Community Research Registry, which enrolls underserved and underrepresented community members into research studies. Development and expansion of this recruitment resource, as well as our participation in community health events, has enhanced and strengthened the image of UTSW, the Simmons Cancer Center, and the Department of Clinical Sciences. We are now ‘front and center’ for understanding health issues that are central to members of the Dallas-Fort Worth community.”

Julia Rand

Certified Medical Office Assistant, University Hospital Breast Imaging Services

Ms. Rand’s nominator, Dr. Stephen J. Seiler, Assistant Professor of Radiology and Medical Director of Breast Imaging: “She is a vital member of our clinic and is a dedicated, dependable, and hardworking employee who consistently goes above and beyond her required duties. ‘It’s who we are. It’s what we do.’ She taught me this mantra when I was a fellow, when we would routinely stay late to perform add-on procedures. Julia’s most basic role in our clinic is to provide support for the radiologists who are performing breast ultrasounds and ultrasound-guided procedures. As a prior Strauss Service Excellence Award winner, she utilizes her superb service skills to keep patients fully informed and comfortable throughout their visits. Her calm demeanor, thorough knowledge of the procedures, and ability to anticipate a patients’ needs help put our patients at ease and create a solid foundation for the radiologists to build strong patient-physician relationships."

Amber Ledesma, Clinical Operations Manager, Breast Imaging Services: “Julia demonstrates an unwavering commitment to the institution and the Department. The organizational goals are also Julia’s personal goals. Her commitment to patient satisfaction is unmatched ... Julia provided input on the script and filming for the development of informational videos explaining step-by-step what a patient can expect when they come in for a needle biopsy of the breast ... Keeping patients safe is at the forefront of every thought Julia has. She serves as a volunteer member of the Fall Risk Committee for the University Hospitals. Her idea to add the established tagline ‘Call, Don't Fall’ on mugs provided to patients was selected and implemented across the hospital campuses ... Julia is extremely intuitive and picks up on minor signals from patients, physicians, and colleagues that may need special attention. Through her ability to adjust her workflow and communication style, Julia is able to turn potential negative and stressful situations for those around her into relaxed and positive experiences.”

Dr. W. Phil Evans, Professor of Radiology and Director of the Center for Breast Care: “[Julia] recently recognized there was no place for women to put their purses in ultrasound rooms. Julia devised purse hangers that keep the purses off the floor, which our patients love ... Proper labeling of biopsy specimens sent to pathology is very important. Julia developed a quality assurance process to make certain that all specimens are properly identified ... Each month a new Radiology resident begins his or her breast imaging rotation. This service is quite different from most other Radiology rotations as there is a great deal of resident-patient interaction. Julia is currently working on a presentation for these new trainees that will introduce them to the service and provide useful information for performing ultrasound examinations as well as interacting with patients.”