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Veteran Nurse Executive to Lead Professional Development Programs at Texas Health Resources

ARLINGTON, Texas — Texas Health Resources has named nurse executive Paula Spears, D.N.Sc., R.N., NEA-BC, as vice president for professional practice, research and magnet, nursing operations. Spears joins the health system from the Nursing Institute of the Mid-South in Memphis, Tenn., which she led as executive director and chief executive officer. She assumed her new role on Dec. 19, 2011.

Paula Spears, D.N.Sc., R.N., NEA-BC
Paula Spears, D.N.Sc., R.N., NEA-BC
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In this newly created position, Spears works with systemwide nursing leadership at all levels to establish and implement a professional practice model that helps ensure evidence-based nursing care across Texas Health. Coordinating programs such as nursing research, magnet program activities, faith community nursing and patient education, Spears’ work will focus on the pursuit of excellence in care for both patients and communities. She reports to Joan Clark, D.N.P., R.N., senior vice president and chief nursing executive for Texas Health.

“At Texas Health our compassionate, dedicated nurses are increasingly involved in leading change and advancing health as we serve our patients,” said Clark. “Paula’s extensive experience and visionary work in research and professional practice will help us build vital opportunities in education, professionalism and leadership for our nurses.”

In three years at the Nursing Institute of the Mid-South, Spears collaborated with regional academic and health care practice leaders to establish the infrastructure and organizational synergy for a unified pursuit of programs that would advance the quantity and quality of nursing care available to the community. She authored and received federal grant funding to establish a leadership development program for clinical nurses to improve patient outcomes, teamwork and team leadership skills.

Spears also served as the corporate director for professional practice at Methodist Healthcare in Memphis, Tenn., where she helped secure federal funding for, and implement, a nurse leadership development program. She also led the system’s nursing professional practice program.

Previously Spears provided advanced practice and consultation services through a contracting agency for several organizations, including University of Tennessee Bowld Hospital, University of Tennessee College of Nursing and the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Memphis, among others.

Along with her nursing leadership experience, Spears brings experience as a Patient Safety Officer, Baldrige quality process reviewer and nurse advocate. She is a member of the American Organization of Nurse Executives, American Council of Healthcare Executives and the American Nurses Association.

She was appointed to the adjunct faculty at the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center as an assistant professor in 2003, and has been with the center’s adjunct clinical faculty since 1986. She also has extensive experience with grant-based projects with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Dorothy Snider Foundation and the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation.

Spears received a doctorate in nursing science and a master's degree in nursing from the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center in Memphis. She earned a bachelor's degree in nursing from the University of Memphis.

“I am very excited about this opportunity at Texas Health Resources, as it allows me to create and support strategies and programs for the pursuit of clinical nursing excellence and expertise. By working with and through nursing leadership’s everyday efforts, this work will support what every nurse has a passion for — to make a difference in the lives of their patients each and every day,” said Spears.

For more information about Texas Health Resources, visit

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