CANYON, Texas —West Texas A&M University will continue to bolster its acclaimed nurse practitioner program thanks to a newly established professorship.
Dr. Angela Phillips is now the Mike Wartes Professor of Nursing and Health Sciences, a position that will enable her to continue the kind of work that has resulted in WT’s program being ranked No. 1 in Texas for three consecutive years.
“It is a high honor to be named for this professorship and be recognized for my years of work at WT,” Phillips said. “The funding this position provides will allow continued innovation for family nurse practitioner education. I want to continue to lead the FNP program and graduate the very best students to work all over the Texas Panhandle and beyond.”
Phillips is one of several family nurse practitioner and psychiatric nurse practitioner faculty in WT’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences.
In the past year, WT added nine endowed professorships, bringing its total number of professorships and chairs to 70.
“The addition of professorships is a significant part of the historic, $125 million One West comprehensive fundraising campaign,” said Dr. Todd Rasberry, vice president for philanthropy and external relations. “More than half of the designated gifts received thus far to the campaign are earmarked for the One West focus on people, through expanding scholarship opportunities and named professorships and chairs.”
“Faculty like Dr. Phillips are providing the best quality in education to graduate students at an extremely affordable cost,” said Dr. Holly Jeffreys, head of WT’s Department of Nursing. “We are extremely thankful to Mr. Wartes for providing us this professorship opportunity to nursing, and I am confident the Mike Wartes Professorship in the hands of Dr. Phillips will significantly enhance our team and ultimately benefit our students and the Texas Panhandle.”
Phillips joined the WT faculty in 2003. She earned an associate’s degree in nursing from McLennan Community College, a bachelor of science degree in nursing from the University of Texas at Arlington, a master of science in nursing and a family nurse practitioner certification from Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi, and a doctorate of nursing practice from University of Texas at Houston.
Phillips sees patients through WT’s Student Medical Services. She is a member of National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculty, Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing, American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, Texas Nurse Practitioners, and Panhandle Nurse Practitioner Association.
She has participated in the Pantex Former Worker Medical Surveillance Program, a long-term research collaborative partnership with Drexel University, University of Texas at Tyler, United States Department of Energy and Department of Labor. She is on numerous health-related boards and has provided patient care at Heal the City.
Wartes, chairman of the Baptist Community Services board of trustees, retired as superintendent of Canyon Independent School District in 2015 following a career as a coach, teacher and administrator. He earned bachelor degrees in history and physical education and a master of education degree at WT.
“It’s an honor to be recognized in this way, but the importance of this professorship is primarily to continue the great work WT has done for 50 years in preparing nurses to serve the community, especially in the Texas Panhandle region,” Wartes said. “There are critical needs now that must be met, and I believe that WT is at the forefront of providing a quality nursing education program that continues to attract high-caliber students and produce excellent nurses.”
The professorship was established as part of High Plains Christian Ministries Foundation’s $3 million gift to WT in 2021, the largest gift in the foundation’s history.
The gift, one of the largest single gifts in the University’s history, also resulted in the naming of the Baptist Community Services Nursing Education Floor at Harrington Academic Hall WTAMU Amarillo Center.
High Plains Christian Ministries Foundation is a part of the Baptist Community Services organizational family. The Foundation supports the senior adult services and community wellness programs of BCS, including Park Central and the Snack Pak 4 Kids weekend food insecurity program.
The Amarillo Center now houses 250 undergraduate bachelor of nursing students and about 20 nursing faculty and staff. In its 25,000 square feet, the BCS Nursing Education Floor includes state-of-the-art simulation labs and other innovative educational spaces.
Established in 1972 and graduating its first students in 1974, WT’s Department of Nursing in its College of Nursing and Health Sciences currently provides about 70 percent of nurses employed throughout the Texas Panhandle.
WT nursing graduates, over the past five years, have averaged a 97 percent score on the National Council Licensure Examination, required by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing to test the competency of nursing school graduates in the United States and Canada. Nationally, the average is 85 percent; in Texas, it’s 87 percent.
Meeting regional needs is a key component of the University’s long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World, which is fueled by the One West campaign. To date, the five-year campaign — which publicly launched in September 2021 — has raised more than $110 million.
WT offers the most affordable online RN-to-BSN program in the country, according to TopRNtoBSN.com, which ranked WT at No. 1 on its 2022 list of most affordable online programs. Nursing Process also recently ranked WT’s online RN-to-BSN program No. 6 in the nation. WT’s program is the only one in Texas to make the list.
Among other recent accolades, the online nursing program was ranked No. 7 in Texas and won a coveted Best Graduate Program ranking for 2022 from U.S. News & World Report. Previously, the family nurse practitioner program was ranked No. 4 in the country by RegisteredNursing.org. College Choice recently ranked the online RN to BSN program as the third best in the country, and Online-Bachelor-Degrees.com also recently named WT one of the 10 best online nursing schools in the country.
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