The independent student news organization of Nicholls State University

The Great 100 Nurses nominates Velma Westbrook

October 20, 2016

This year, Velma Westbrook, Nicholls’ dean of nursing and allied health was honored as one of The Great 100 Nurses.

The Great 100 Nurses Foundation hosted its thirteenth annual banquet to honor nurses across Louisiana, North Carolina, Texas and Oklahoma.

Westbrook was nominated and chosen to be honored at The Great 100 Nurses banquet this year for her various contributions to the nursing field.

“I was honored, humbled and surprised when I received the letter and email congratulating me,” Westbrook said. “They have so many deserving nurses of this recognition.”

Westbrook is originally from Thibodaux and began working as a candy striper at the hospital.She also volunteered a lot to help with hurricane evacuees.

“My biggest influence for going into the nursing field was my mother,” Westbrook said “She never had the opportunity to go to nursing school.

I remember her saying so many times how she regretted not being able to attend school and get the education.”

She attended Northwestern University to pursue a degree in nursing.

Many years after she graduated she attended a conference in California where she ran into Grace Monk Gueydan, who at the time was a part of the nursing department at Nicholls.

Gueydan told Westbrook of job opportunities available at Nicholls. So when Westbrook moved from Texas back to Louisiana, she applied and was hired as a Nicholls staff member in August of 1973.

Westbrook did not have her Master’s degree during her move.

She obtained her Master’s degree in counseling from Nicholls.

Later, she received her Master’s degree in nursing and, several years later, obtained her doctorate in nursing from LSU Health Sciences Center.

Westbrook was the first teacher to teach the maternal and newborn classes when the four-year nursing program began.

Along with teaching, she was also the Program Director for Continuing Nursing Education; an accredited program that provided nurses credit to meet the requirements to become re-licensed.

Then she became the Department Head for Nursing and remained for over 13 years before she became the Dean of the College of Nursing and Allied Health. Under her administration, the nursing master’s program on campus opened.

Her contributions to the nursing field go beyond just her accomplishments at Nicholls. She serves on the Louisiana Board of Nursing.

The boards mission is to protect the public from nurses to ensure that they are following the entire standard passed by the board.

The governor appoints members to the board and they serve for two four-year terms. Westbrook is currently serving her second term.

“My advice to anyone considering the nursing field or are currently pursing the field is to stay the course,” Westbrook said. “It is a very rewarding occupation and it may be a struggle at first but stick with it. Many people have come through those doors and have succeeded.”

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