Alumni Stories

| 18 March 2024

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Alumni spotlight: DNP Alum Propels Innovation in Healthcare

Jessica Hovland

With her philosophy of “Encourage the heart, lead by example and inspire a shared vision to maintain the highest standards,” Jessica Hovland, DNP, RN, CPAN, NE-BC, PMGT-BC (DNP ’20) is taking her innovation and leadership learnings and putting them to practice.

Dr. Hovland graduated from the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences with a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) with an emphasis in nurse executive leadership. When pursuing her DNP, her research involved blending multimodal analgesia and virtual reality (VR) to offer surgical patients a non-opioid treatment option to postoperative pain, creating an innovative approach to pain management.

During the last year of her doctorate program, she shared that “Nursing leaders are the drivers of change” and how the use of VR is a notable example of nursing presence within the ever-growing field of healthcare technology. “VR is no longer a vision of the future but an existing capability that can enhance our practice in excellence. If we fail to adopt evidence-based practices and envision them as disruptive, we will never grow with resiliency and adaptability,” she wrote.

Innovation in Action

Fast forward four years and now, as the Administrative Director, Ambulatory Surgery Center at UT Health Austin, she is a leader in nursing disruptive innovations with a focus on the latest technologies (i.e., VR, artificial intelligence) to propel healthcare organizations to excel beyond their competition and to provide personalized patient care. UT Health Austin’s Ambulatory Surgery Center (ASC), which Dr. Hovland helped open in January 2021, gives patients and their physicians a convenient and safe alternative for outpatient and selected short-stay surgical procedures. Fully equipped with the latest technology and state-of-the-art preoperative and post-anesthesia areas of the center, the ASC is staffed to provide same-day surgical care. According to ASC’s website, the center was recently recognized for having implemented advanced technologies and leveraging those technologies in innovative ways that have realized meaningful outcomes.

“I continue to work with our team to implement innovations in perioperative medicine. We’re currently working on an expansion plan to scale the ambulatory surgical services and provide more outpatient surgical care to the constantly growing community of Central Texas,” she states.

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Inspiration through Leadership

Specializing in organizational and system leadership, Dr. Hovland has expertise in developing patient- and family-centered care approaches.

“In my role, I must ensure the accountability for the quality of outpatient perioperative health care and patient safety, which starts with the nursing and administrative staff,” she states. “One of the best ways to foster a supportive perioperative culture is to understand your workforce and apply different leadership styles to varying challenging situations. My doctorate and education helped me to understand the soft and hard skills needed to lead a culture of positivity and adaptability.”


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