Excellence in Nursing Awards 2016

Building teamwork through tough times

The Senior-Level Nursing Executive Award

David Marshall

Chief nursing and patient care services officer
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
David Marshall, chief nursing officer at the University of Texas Medical Branch Galveston since 2001, faced one of the biggest crises of his career in 2008 when Hurricane Ike hit the Gulf Coast. Its ferocity forced the hospital to close for a month. Full operations weren't restored for nearly a year.

Marshall stepped in as interim chief operating officer, serving as the hospital's public face in keeping patients, consumers and the community informed on the progress toward restoring full services. “The respect and trust earned over the 25 years of being a part of UTMB served to calm the fears of everyone,” said Barbara Bonificio, director of nursing excellence at UTMB.

It took even longer for Marshall and his staff to regain its Magnet Recognition for nursing excellence from the American Nurses Credentialing Center of the ANA Enterprise, which it initially won in 2005. Maintaining the designation required two consecutive years of data, which the hospital couldn't provide because of the closure.

The hospital's ability to regain Magnet status in 2012 was a remarkable achievement, given the turmoil at the facility during the shutdown. A few months after the hurricane, the hospital had to eliminate 2,400 staff, including 400 nurses. “This is a team effort,” Marshall said in announcing restoration of Magnet status. “Every nurse at UTMB played a part in this incredible achievement.”

For his exemplary skills in running UTMB's nursing programs over the past 15 years, Modern Healthcare is pleased to award Marshall its 2016 Excellence in Nursing Award for senior-level nursing executives.

Marshall had no idea he would wind up a nurse when he left high school in Northeast Texas. He wanted to study to be an athletic trainer in college. But the Pittsburg, Texas, native took a summer school course for certification as a basic emergency medical technician to “help me better respond as an athletic trainer,” he recalled. “I had rotations in the emergency room and the intensive-care unit at a hospital and got to see what nurses really do and thought it was amazing.”

Not long after receiving a nursing degree from the University of Texas at Austin in 1982, he entered a nursing residency program at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. That began his 33-year affiliation with the academic health center.

Marshall became a staff nurse at UTMB in 1983 but was approached after only 18 months on the job to take over as an assistant nurse manager. “I was able to build good relationships with people,” Marshall said. “I think based on that I was seen as someone people would follow and that I would make a good leader.”

So began Marshall's rise within nursing management, but it wasn't without its pit stops. By 1993, Marshall had earned a degree from South Texas College of Law in Houston. He then worked at a small Houston law firm for three years, but on weekends he was a nurse supervisor at UTMB.

“I didn't enjoy practicing law like I had enjoyed working at the hospital,” Marshall said. So he returned to work full time at UTMB, where he became director of nursing and, in 2001, CNO.

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"The respect and trust (Marshall) earned over the 25 years of being part of UTMB served to calm the fears of everyone" after Hurricane Ike hit Galveston.

Barbara Bonificio, director of nursing excellence at UTMB