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Pulmonology nurse honored with award of excellence

Written By: G. Ashley Johnson, UT Physicians | Updated: November 29, 2023
Esther Santiago

Clinical care coordinator Esther Santiago, RN, BSN, works with the pulmonary care team at UT Physicians Internal Medicine – Texas Medical Center. (Photo by: Logan Ball, UT Physicians)

The Good Samaritan Foundation of Texas has recognized UT Physicians clinical care coordinator Esther Santiago, RN, BSN, as part of their 19th annual Excellence in Nursing awards.

“I am very appreciative of the award. The work of nurses is unique and touches various aspects of health care,” Santiago said. “The interaction with patients and doctors means nurses must be versatile, compassionate, and instructive. In many ways, we are responsible for teaching the quality of life.”

Santiago started in 1997 working as a respiratory therapist. She became a registered nurse in 2007. She is now at the UT Physicians Internal Medicine clinic and works with the pulmonary care team. Santiago was nominated for the award by M. Amanda Ordoñez, PhD, RN, nurse manager at the clinic.

“Esther is a role model for safe patient care at our clinic,” Ordoñez said. “She is attentive to making sure that patients are heard and is committed to staying on a task until the job is done. The recognition is truly well-deserved.”

Santiago’s upbringing was influential in forming her beliefs about taking care of patients.

“Growing up, my mother was a diabetic and my father was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis when I was 13 years old. Though I had little medical knowledge as a young person, what I discovered is that it was most important to understand empathy and the commitment to taking care of people,” she said. “Taking care of my parents helped shape what I bring to my work as a nurse. I made a personal promise that I would treat every patient like they were my own family.”

Santiago’s care philosophy is also matched by a strong work ethic, decision-making abilities, and an emphasis on teamwork. Co-workers affirm these are qualities that she exhibits consistently.

“Esther’s critical thinking skills, expertise in respiratory therapy, and years of nursing experience make her the ideal coordinator. Her intensive care background adapted well to the clinic environment, as she can see all aspects of what patients need,” said Susan Bell, senior practice manager. “She learns procedures from the bottom up, and she prioritizes cohesion among all members of our team, so everything runs like a well-oiled machine.”

Santiago is humbled at being identified by the foundation with their bronze level award and the idea of being charitable. Above all, it is about treating everyone equally, taking pride in her work, and setting an example for others to follow.

“When your heart is in what you do, it can have a lasting impact on people’s wellness. My work is a calling for me, and gives me a great sense of pride,” Santiago said. “Whether it’s care for patients or communication with my co-workers, they deserve the best of what I can contribute. Everyone to me is a VIP.”

As the clinical practice of McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston, UT Physicians has locations across the Greater Houston area to serve the community. To schedule an appointment, call 888-4UT-DOCS.