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Aggie helping shape nursing profession in Texas

  • Maddie Spera
  • Nursing
Former student Elise McDermott serves as director of nursing for Texas Board of Nursing
Elise McDermott in front of Texas Board of Nursing sign

When nursing students hear “Board of Nursing,” they may break into a nervous sweat. Perhaps it’s because they’ll need this regulatory body to grant them a license to practice upon graduation. Or maybe they picture an assemblage of administrators gathered around a table in Austin. But for students at the Texas A&M University School of Nursing, it may be comforting to know that there’s an Aggie in that group, helping guide the nursing profession in Texas.

Former student Elise McDermott ’19, MSN, BSN, started with the Texas Board of Nursing (TBON) in 2017 as a nursing consultant for practice. While contemplating a change at a previous job, she discovered her passion for nursing education.

“Part of the reason I decided to come to the board is that in my job before I was doing a lot of education, and I really loved it,” said McDermott. “I wanted to focus more on that, and I just needed a little more work-life balance. I started working with the board the same week I started my master’s program in nursing education.”

After completing her Master of Science in Nursing-Nursing Education at Texas A&M in 2019, McDermott was promoted to TBON’s lead nursing consultant for practice and recently ascended to director of nursing.

McDermott’s goal wasn’t always to work for the TBON, which is responsible for regulating nursing practice and approving nursing education programs in the state. In fact, she remembers when she herself was intimidated by the thought of it.

“A lot of nurses are kind of afraid of the board,” said McDermott. “I was very much the same and always aware that there was this regulatory body. But along the way, I became really involved in patient safety, research and education, so that’s why I was interested in joining the board. I wanted to help patients on a broader scale.”

As the director of nursing, McDermott certainly gets to help both patients and nurses from all over the state. She helps create continuing education courses, handle possible practice violations, review nursing program applications, approve advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), and more. While it may not be through direct care at the bedside, McDermott hopes to use her role to make important and lasting decisions that positively impact nursing practices and patients. This, she believes, is the heart of the board’s mission.

“The people that work here really are working as hard as they can to do what’s best,” said McDermott. “I really love being involved in patient safety, as well as educating nurses and empowering them to know what is right based on an educated understanding of what is expected of them.”

While the board exists in part to ensure that best practices are followed, McDermott wants nurses to realize it is also an accessible resource when they need guidance or have questions. The board is available to professional nurses and students. Education consultants on the board talk are interested in engaging with nursing students about their programs, McDermott said.

“I don’t think as a nursing student I would have ever thought about doing that,” McDermott said. “But we’re trying to be more approachable for nurses, because we’re all on the same side. We all want what’s best for the patients, and all we really want to do is try and educate as much as we can.”

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