Lark A. Ford, PhD, MA, MSN, RN
What brought you to UT Health San Antonio?
I joined the nursing faculty at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio in the fall of 2006, following my retirement in the rank of Colonel with over 33 years military service in the United States Army Nurse Corps. My last military duty assignment was as the Deputy Commander for Nursing at Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, and Chief Nurse Executive for nine other military hospitals assigned in the Greater Midwest Region. Based on this leadership position, role, and responsibility, I was an active member on the Greater San Antonio Chief Nurse Executive Council with all of the other Chief Nurse Executives affiliated with the local hospitals here in San Antonio, Texas.
Dr. Nancy Girard, one of the School of Nursing Department Chiefs, asked my plans following completion of my assignment at Brooke Army Medical Center and if would I be interested in joining the teaching team at the School of Nursing. I retired in May 2006 from the U.S. Army and joined the teaching and clinical team at UT Health San Antonio School of Nursing in August 2006.
What is your favorite part and most challenging part of your job?
I have been a part of the School of Nursing for 15 years. I did not think anything could replace or bring me as much joy and excitement, coupled with challenges, as the military did, yet being here at the university far exceeded my expectations. I have loved every aspect of being here at the university. My favorite part is working with the students. One of my most unique attributes is being able to remember names. To date, I can remember the names of the nursing students who were in my first clinical rotation group in August 2006:
- Stephanie Bhrlik
- Elizabeth Caldwell
- Mallory Herbst
- Patrick Leal
- Crystal Ponce
- Amina Tharpe
- Audrey White
I hope these young professionals are doing well and achieving all their personal and professional goals. There is always a first and final group, and I have to say that I will also remember the names of the nursing students who were in my last clinical group at the School of Nursing in Spring 2021:
- Leah Carrillo
- Kassandra Hernandez
- Marlena Iruegas
- Andrew Keller
- Thomas Knabe
- Anna Phan
- Olivia Ponton
- Melissa Rodriguez
- Alonzo Urueta
- Imani Wright
This exceptional group of future professionals graduated in August 2021. This is the group that experienced the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic starting in May 2020. The most challenging part of my time at the university was not being able to have in-person classes with this group of students. All lectures were given by “live-chat” – I could see them one at a time versus in a group in a classroom setting. The funniest thing I can recall was me introducing the students to each other when they would come to assist me in the COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic conducted at the School of Nursing. Students were meeting each other for the first time; clinical groups of 10 students per group knew one another, but outside that clinical group, students were unfamiliar with one another.
What is your most rewarding experience at UT Health San Antonio?
Where do I start? In 2009, I became part of an interprofessional education project that took me with the San Antonio Metropolitan Ministries Transitional Living and Learning Center (SAMM TLLC) located at 5922 Blanco Road in San Antonio. I worked with a group of exemplary health professions faculty from the Long School of Medicine, School of Dentistry, and the School of Health Professions. I was involved in a project entitled the “RESPECT Project” – Realizing Enhanced Student Inter-Professional Education through Clinical Teamwork – and Inter-professional Education Clinical Experience. Teams of residents and students from medicine, nursing, dentistry, and dental hygiene underwent training and then worked together to serve the health care needs of homeless families at the SAMM TLLC. I worked on the project which was funded through a HRSA grant from 2009 until 2017. My doctoral dissertation was based on my experience at the SAMM center.
Building from this interprofessional education experience, I was appointed to serve as the Interim Director of the Linking Interprofessional Networks for Collaboration (LINC) from 2018 until 2019 until a permanently assigned Director was recruited. I worked on the development and approval of the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) which was a key component for the university’s accreditation process and served as the inaugural LINC Faculty Council member representing the School of Nursing. My passion is working and collaborating with my fellow interprofessional health profession colleagues.
How are you giving back to UT Health San Antonio?
I hope is the passion and joy that I have had here will continue to remain part of my legacy when I depart the university. Serving as the Director of the COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic was probably one of the greatest enjoyments that I experienced. Being able to provide the novel coronavirus vaccine to thousands of individuals and families.
Share a message for students and alumni.
There are a couple of quotes from the infamous Maya Angelou about life that I have shared with my friends, colleagues, and students in the past, and I hope to continue to do so throughout my life:
“Live as though life was created for you.”
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive, and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”