|Beth Papasakelariou ’80|
Wherever her life takes her, Beth (Anton) Papasakelariou says she will always be a nurse at heart.
Beth, who graduated from the University of St. Thomas School of Nursing in 1980, recently graduated from the University of Houston Law Center and is an attorney as well as a registered nurse. She is co-chairing the University of St. Thomas Nursing Advisory Council with her husband, physician Dr. Cristo Papasakelariou, director of gynecologic surgery at St. Joseph Medical Center.
“Once you are a nurse, you never stop being a nurse,” Beth said. “Being a nurse was part of my identity, whether I was employed in nursing or not. At UST, I developed problem-solving and critical thinking skills. The nursing education I received at St. Thomas has stayed with me through my life, and I apply those skills every day.”
Beth has been active among the UST nursing alumni since 1980, and she had always hoped that the School of Nursing at St. Thomas would reopen. She was working toward her law degree when UST President Dr. Robert Ivany approached her to chair the Nursing Advisory Council. Despite her demanding academic schedule, she instantly agreed, and asked her husband to join the efforts.
“I know that the grounding in liberal arts that I got at St. Thomas made me a better nurse,” Beth said. “Having the strong background in philosophy, theology, and the humanities along with the hard sciences gave me a better understanding of the whole person.
“It’s really important for health care professionals to care for the whole person – the physical, spiritual and emotional aspects of the person,” she said. “Nurses are on the forefront of patient care. You have to be a strong patient advocate to help patients and their families navigate the often confusing health care system.”
Beth said the UST nursing faculty emphasized the idea that nurses are the professional centerpiece of a well-functioning health care team – a concept which Dr. Papasakelariou supports.
“Reopening this Nursing School meets a need that is very important not only to me as a physician, but to society in general,” he said. “We need to have qualified individuals to help us with medical care.
There is no question that everybody respects and appreciates nurses. The problem is we need to have more nurses to appreciate.”
Dr. Cristo Papasakelariou
Dr. Papasakelariou, a board certified gynecologist and obstetrician, has been on the teaching staff of St. Joseph Medical Center in Houston since 1984, and is a past chief of staff. He is also a past president of the Houston Gynecologic and Obstetric Society. He pioneered advancements of gynecologic techniques, giving women more surgical options that are less invasive and require shorter recovery times. He has produced more than 30 gynecologic surgery videos used worldwide to train specialists.
“When it comes to good medical outcomes, it’s important to have people who are good at what they do, but you also need to have a spiritual component,” he said. “That is something that was very unique about University of St. Thomas nursing graduates.”