McGovern Medical School

B. Dominguez

Barbara Dominguez, UTHealth Houston

Per this Houston Chronicle Article:

Barbara Dominguez, BSN, Medical Genetics Clinical Nurse Specialist in the Department of Pediatrics at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) – Nominated by Joseph Will Ray, MD; Claudia Soler, MD; Hope Northrup, MD; and Christy Leath of BioMarin.

Barbara Dominguez, a nurse for 37 years, lived all over the world until age 11, when her military dad passed away and her family moved to Beaumont.

“We had lived places like Thailand, Panama and Ethiopia, and seeing so many people who needed so much, I first thought being a social worker was my calling,” she said.

However, her unique heritage would serve as a stronger attraction.

“My mother’s mother did most of the nursing in her community in East Texas,” Dominguez said. “My mother was head nurse at St. Elizabeth’s Emergency Room in Beaumont, and my aunt was a nurse.

Working as a nurse aide at a retirement home in the summers before becoming a nurse completed her future as a nurse.

“I knew nursing would be the best way to help others,” she said.

She also saw some caregivers taking advantage of dementia patients, applying make-up to make the patients look clown-like and then laughing them.

“It made an impression,” Dominguez said. “I didn’t like what I was seeing, and it made me work even harder to show respect and to help those patients maintain their dignity.”

In nursing school at Texas Woman’s University, during a pediatric rotation on the chronic care ward at Jefferson Davis Hospital, the young nurse found her passion for working with children with genetic disabilities.

Taking time out from her pediatric nursing career to begin her family, Dominguez’s passion has continued to guide her, as she joined the pediatric clinic staff at The University of Texas Health – Houston in 1981.

As a nomination stated:

“Barbara is one of the hardest-working, nicest, least judgmental and passionate people I know. She has a heart for working with children with genetic disorders, and has always shown the utmost respect to the patients and staff.

“Barbara goes above and beyond in the workplace, particularly with the trainees, rotators and students. She coordinates their schedules and ensures they get the widest exposure to cases to maximize their training. She is always willing to help and quite honestly this clinic would not function without all the little details she takes care of.”

“Initially, I worked in general pediatrics, but was invited to join the staff at the metabolics and genetics clinic,” Dominguez said. “From there, my compassion for children who experience these problems has grown, and they drive me to learn as much as I can and to provide as much help, education, and support for each patient and their parents.”

She said the most exciting part of her job is seeing patients grow and thrive throughout their lives.

“I’ve been privileged to see patients grow up, go to school, get married and see their families grow,” she said.

One area in which she has developed expertise is phenylketonuria, an inherited disorder that increases phenylalanine – a building block of proteins – in the blood. Left untreated, PKU can result in intellectual disability, delayed development, behavioral problems and psychiatric disorders.

As her nomination stated:

“Barbara, with a nurse from Texas Children’s Hospital, cofounded a summer camp for children with phenylketonuria (PKU) in 1997 that attracts kids from all over the U.S. and some foreign countries. ”

Dominguez said along with saving many lives, “being part of the clinic team provides much satisfaction, just watching our patients thrive. Some of new genetic testing enables a diagnosis and gives answers to the parents of children with intellectual disabilities, seizures, hearing loss and other disabilities. With answers, the parents learn what to do for their children and know what to expect in their child’s life.”

While she is “astounded” by her nomination as one of this year’s Top 10 Nurses, her excitement in seeing a former PKU patient become a nurse this past May and another calling to say she is applying for nursing school is equally joyful.

By Alice Adams- Houston Chronicle | May 8, 2014

May 14, 2014