Traci Gonzales, pediatric pulmonary nurse practitioner, is the recipient of a Top 150 Nurse Award by the Houston Chronicle.
Gonzales has devoted her nursing career to pediatrics and has worked the last three years as a pediatric pulmonary specialist in the Division of Pediatric Pulmonary Medicine at UT Physicians Pediatric Specialists at the Texas Medical Center. She received her nursing degree from McNeese State University and her Master in Nursing from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.
As a nurse practitioner, Gonzales said, she gets the best of both worlds. “As a nurse, I was trained to treat the whole patient. This includes not only the patient’s medical needs, but their social well-being as well. As a nurse practitioner, I was further trained to treat and manage the disease at a higher level while continuing to understand the importance of whole patient care.”
Gonzales was nominated by Dr. Susan Pacheco, associate professor of pediatrics, who said, “She is plain awesome. I wish there were more Tracis around!”
“When I first found out about the award I was both humbled and honored,” Gonzales said. “I am lucky in that I get to do what I love every day. And I am humbled to know that others see what I do and feel it is worthy of such an honor.”
Gonzales has been hailed by patients for always going the extra mile and helping them achieve their best. One patient’s mother wrote, “She went above and beyond to listen to him and me as Mom and never made us feel like a bother. If she has an idea of what can help my kids more, she immediately tries. My son, who couldn’t stay well ever or stop coughing, now has the right medical regiment and mechanical vest and can finally be back in sports, and he just starred in his first musical in high school and beat out the seniors for the lead role! This would not be possible without Traci.”
“I feel the best part of my job is knowing that we make a difference in the lives of these children,” Gonzales said. “My office is full of letters, hand-drawn pictures, photographs, and thank-you cards from patients and families that I have seen throughout the years. When days are stressful, I look at these and am reminded that although today may have been a bad day, the work that we do is important. These children are inspiring; they are by far the best part of what I do.”
Gonzales was selected from among hundreds of nominations by a panels of educators and leaders identified by the Houston Chronicle. She was honored at a May 5 awards luncheon and featured in the Houston Chronicle’s Salute to Nurses Special Section.
Gonzales joined McGovern Medical School in October 2013 and in the coming months will be transitioning to the UT Physicians High Risk Children’s Clinic, which provides comprehensive medical care to children with complex medical needs.