Vital Views

Alona Angosta, UNLV Nursing alumna and current Associate Dean of Research and Scholarship at the Louise Harrington School of Nursing, talks the importance of research; benefits of advanced education; and future trends of nursing.

Creators & Guests

Joseph Gaccione
Host, Writer, Producer
Alona Angosta
Professor, Associate Dean of Research and Scholarship, Louise Herrington School of Nursing at Baylor University

What is Vital Views?

Vital Views is a weekly podcast created by UNLV School of Nursing to discuss health care from a Rebel Nursing perspective. We share stories and expert information on both nursing-specific and broader healthcare topics to bring attention to the health trends and issues that affect us. New episodes every Tuesday.

Feedback? Questions? Episode Ideas? Email

Joe Gaccione 0:01

You're listening to Vital Views, podcast for UNLV School of Nursing. I'm Joe Gaccione, communications director for the School of Nursing. You're probably wondering why a communications guy’s talking to you about nursing. That's fair. I'm not a nurse, but I know plenty of nurses who are willing to share their expertise from all walks of life. My goal is to hopefully help facilitate their knowledge to try and make it less in the weeds and more palatable for general audiences while retaining the importance of what these health pros are talking about. These nursing stories focus on work on the frontlines, in the classrooms, in the lab, wherever our nurses are making a difference. We're all getting a front row seat to essential health information through the lens of a nurse's vital views.

Where are they now? It's a question we asked about our hard working alumni out there. How are they making a difference? Are they still in Nevada? What did they appreciate most from their time at UNLV? Part of the show is to check in our past graduates and share their tales so young nurses can see how far their path can go.

Joining us today remotely is one of our most recognized alumni, Dr. Alona Angosta. She's currently a tenured professor and the associate dean of research and scholarship at the Louise Harrington School of Nursing at Baylor University, Dr. Angosta earned her bachelor's and master's in nursing at UNLV. She went on to teach at UNLV and led the master's program. Under her leadership, UNLV Nursing’s master's track was among the top online MSN programs in the country. She also helped launch UNLV Nursing’s psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner program. Furthermore, Dr. Angosta is a board certified family nurse practitioner with experience in primary care, internal medicine, acute care and military medicine. Dr. Angosta, thanks for calling in. You are currently associate dean for research and scholarship at Baylor, specifically Louise Harrington School of Nursing, in addition to teaching. What do you think makes nursing science and research unique?

Alona Angosta 1:52

Well, first of all, Joe, thank you for having me. This is a great opportunity. I'm so glad to hear from my colleague from my alma mater. So before I specifically address your questions, I'd like to share a little bit about nursing. I'm very passionate about it, as you know, and I hope that I can share this passion with others and I”m thankful for my alma mater for giving me the opportunity to do what I love to do and preparing me to be where I am today. Nursing is an honorable and distinct profession, because it touches a lot of fields that impact individuals’ wellbeing. The holistic aspect of nursing is what makes it an art and unique that helps advance our health care. Nursing also touches the work of other disciplines such as public health, psychology, social work, medicine, and others. We know now that nursing is a vital part of the healthcare team. But if you were to ask me 70 plus years ago, Joe, this is not the case. Additionally, nurses work in different areas such as hospitals, outpatient settings, rural communities, academia, and other organizations with different specialties. So, nursing is not just about working at the bedside, giving medications, and following doctor's orders. So that has changed tremendously. There are also nurse scientists, researchers, leaders, policymakers, advocates, independent clinicians and more. The diversity of the roles of nursing is what makes it attractive and unique. And now to address your questions about nursing science and research. All work done by nurses are based on research, empirical data, and other methods of inquiry. Nurse scientists conduct research to generate knowledge or theories based on the conceptual models developed by other nurse scientists and test those theories to generate findings. And these are needed for evidence-based practice. And the goal really is to translate the findings into practice, such as clinical guidelines, assessment and intervention protocols to improve the overall quality of care.

Joe Gaccione 4:11

In your research, specifically, you focus on cardiovascular health, is that correct?

Alona Angosta 4:16


Joe Gaccione 4:17

Now prior to this prior to your position at Baylor, you taught at UNLV Nursing, you mentioned your alma mater before, you also led the Master of Science in Nursing program. What doors can an advanced nursing degree open up for people with bachelor's degrees, people that are RNs, what did it provide for you?

Alona Angosta 4:34

I really had the honor and privilege to serve as the director of the master's program and postmasters certificate in areas of family nurse practitioners and nurse education. And to answer your question, let me just share with you what I appreciate and what I have experienced there at UNLV. Working very closely with faculty and staff involved in the program, the director of the simulation center for example, the director doctoral programs, associate dean for academic affairs, clinical and community engagement director, the dean, and community partners and other stakeholders, really this partnership has moved our program, the master's program, to the ranking. We were at one point the number one, I think we are still, the number one nursing program with regards to the masters, the graduate program, family nurse practitioner, number one in the state of Nevada. We were also within the top 10 among online MSN programs in the nation. So that was very nice. And this is really the fruition of all the hard work that we've had as a team at UNLV. So going back to your question with regards to advanced nursing, as in any discipline, including nursing, advanced degree provides many opportunities such as, you know, advanced specialization and preparation for a leadership, leadership position, for example. Having an advanced degree opened a lot of opportunities for me. I have had the opportunity to teach in higher education, to do research, become a clinician leader and a mentor. My role is exciting and interesting because I get to do what I love, research, practice, and to teach. And, you know, the UNLV School of Nursing has prepared me for this role. And as you know, there are not many PhD prepared faculty with an active research program who are also practicing clinicians. As a doctorally prepared researcher, I'm also a nurse practitioner with over 22 years of experience and I'm very blessed and thankful to have the best of both worlds. And for me, this is a huge factor that helped build my research and academic experience and clinical skills. Now, I have shared all these experiences and all the nuggets that I've had as a nurse to my students when I was at UNLV and until now with junior faculty as well as you know, the doctoral students.

Joe Gaccione 7:05

When you're talking to your students versus talking to faculty, obviously, there is an educational gap, there's an educational difference, but do you treat mentorship the same way for both groups?

Alona Angosta 7:18

Absolutely. And mentorship is not just, you know, training or involving orientation. Mentorship is a lifetime relationship with regards to guiding that person to where they wanted to go, be it a student or a faculty professionally, personally, as well as career-wise where they really wanted to go.

Joe Gaccione 7:42

We mentioned before, we just barely touched on it, that your research focus is in cardiovascular health. Can you go a little more into detail on that, like, what did you look for specifically?

Alona Angosta 7:51

So, my research interest centers in chronic disease specific to cardiovascular disease among underrepresented populations. My work has been in reducing health disparities and advancing health equity. And even if you look at, look this up, I'm one of the few nurse scientists in the United States who study the cardiovascular health of Filipino Americans. My focus with regards to finding out about cardiovascular health is through screening and also risk factors that put these individuals into cardiometabolic diseases.

Joe Gaccione 8:27

Your nursing background also included time in the Nurse Corps. How did this time shape your path and skill set? Is there a major difference between military nursing and civilian nursing?

Alona Angosta 8:38

Oh, yes. I served as a nurse corps officer for the United States Navy from 1997 until about early 2000s. One thing that I have had the opportunity to experience being a nurse officer is the respect and discipline among military nurse and physician colleagues and staff and really, the military nurses work for the active duty and the, their families and prepare them for combat readiness. And being a civilian nurse, I also had that opportunity to experience being free and we didn't have any commands or officers to follow and not a lot of rules, although we do have rules in the civilian world, but it is not as rigorous as in the military, as you know what I'm talking about.

Joe Gaccione 9:24

Right, no, I understand. It seems more structured in the military life. One of our current faculty, Dr. Jacqueline Killian, she just retired from being in the military as a nurse and a lot of their research, or excuse me, a lot of their nursing was also dependent on research as well. When you were an officer, did you feel that as well? Or was it a different role?

Alona Angosta 9:47

Oh, yeah, they are very big in research. In fact, in September of this year, in 2022, it was my first time to attend the Military Health System Research Symposium in Florida. I have never seen a lot of military, PhD prepared in my life, in my career and that was a very big deal symposium. Lots of them are bench researchers, really doing amazing job from, you know, bench work to virtual simulation, artificial intelligence, and so forth and so on. Really amazing.

Joe Gaccione 10:25

It's interesting that you bring up artificial intelligence because, as of this recording, we're going into a new year, which means new trends. What are the biggest current and future trends you see in nursing, whether it's academics, clinicals, or in research?

Alona Angosta 10:41

Well, there are several. One major trend is the job growth for nurses. It will continue to rise. There's a national shortage of nurses as baby boomers retire, we need more nurses to replace them and prepare them and train them to care for the retired baby boomers with complex conditions. Many nursing schools are offering online education to help combat the nursing shortage, but now I heard recently that many US hospitals have started recruiting internationally educated nurses again because we can't keep up with the demand here in the US. Other trends include well, the traditional care models have shifted from face-to-face care to telehealth, for example, inpatient or outpatient nursing care to home health and community-based care like academia. There's also a nurse educator shortage. Many nurse educators are retiring as well faster than we recruit and train new ones. And about programmatic and learning approaches, virtual simulations and technology have transformed nursing schools. Online education will increase in popularity even more. I don't know if I mentioned this to you the last time we spoke, but the wellbeing of nurses and nursing faculties are top priority. And this is also on the future of nursing trends from 2022 through 2036, studies show that factors that contribute to nursing shortage are due to stress and burnout. The American Nurses Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the American Nurses Association, launched a national wellbeing initiative for nurses. There are lots of resources available through the American Nurses Association website that will help nurses build resilience, for example, and take necessary steps to manage the stress and overcome the trauma caused by COVID-19, for example, there's also a national shortage of mental health providers. We will see more and more nursing schools that will open psych mental health np programs,

Joe Gaccione 12:45

The mental health side really never seems to truly go away and rightfully so, because for nurses, as the trends change, the job changes and nurses have to adapt and the old school way of doing things, it doesn't always stick around as far as, to put it bluntly, nurses dealing with it, dealing with the pressures. So it's nice to hear that that's still a top priority.

Alona Angosta 13:10

It is a top priority. And in fact, it is outlined on the future of nursing handbook where nurses, nurse leaders and stakeholders, organizations are being called to address these issues, to be able to take care of our nurses’ wellbeing so we could also combat the problem of mental health, not just among nurses, but among our community.

Joe Gaccione 13:38

That is all the time we have today. Dr. Angosta, thank you so much for dropping in and sharing your story.

Alona Angosta 13:42
Oh, thank you so much, Joe, and again, it is always nice to hear from you, and I hope I addressed some of your questions.