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First Nurse Practitioner in Texas Honored at State Capitol: School of Nursing alumna’s accomplishments recognized during 84th legislative session

Posted: April 10, 2015

Texas Representative Stephanie Klick, RN, (left), sponsor of HR 1687,
and Dr. Varnell (right) are pictured outside of the House Chamber at
the Capitol following passage of HR 1687.

On April 8, 2015, Gayle P. Varnell, PhD, RN, CPNP-PC, was officially recognized by the 84th Texas Legislature for her many professional accomplishments throughout her distinguished nursing career.

Upon graduation from the University of Texas at Austin, Dr. Varnell began her career as a staff nurse with the Austin-Travis County Health & Human Services Department. After completing a PNP program at Texas Women’s University, she was licensed as a pediatric nurse practitioner on November 5, 1980 — the first nurse practitioner licensed in Texas.

She served on the faculty at the University of Texas at Tyler as assistant dean for advanced practice and was adjunct faculty at Texas Tech University. Her numerous leadership accomplishments include former president of the East Texas Nurse Practitioner Association and former chair of the East Texas Consortium for Evidence-Based Practice.

"Gayle is truly an exemplar of Texas nursing, and we are so proud that she started her career here at The University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing," Alexa Stuifbergen, dean of the UT Austin School of Nursing, said. "Her standards of excellence and leadership — and now this recognition by the state — have made all Texas nurses very proud."

Dr. Varnell is a fellow in the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Associates and Practitioners and a member of the Sigma Theta Tau International and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies. She is also a member of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties, and the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners.

The House Resolution (HR) 1687 describes her as a "dynamic Texan." Dr. Varnell continues her deep commitment to the profession of nursing and is currently a Nursing Consultant for Education at the Texas Board of Nursing.

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