Sandy Branson, PhD, MSN, RN, CNE

She/Her/Hers, Nursing Program Director and Associate Professor


Dr. Branson is the nursing program director, bringing expertise in critical care, medical-surgical, education, administration, and community health. Her scholarly interests include psychophysiological research on human-animal interactions, focusing on pet therapy and ownership among vulnerable populations like homebound older adults and hospitalized patients. Additionally, her research examined nurse resilience, well-being, and adaptability during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Branson's instructional practices include disaster preparedness for students and community members and courses in evidence-based practice, quality improvement, implementation science, community health, leadership, management, administration, and education. Her research goal aims to foster resilience, well-being, adaptability, and mindfulness in nurses and nurse leaders while identifying upstream factors for promoting nurse well-being.

She believes in inclusive teaching, policies, and high-quality education as drivers for diversifying the nursing workforce that enhances health equity.

Scholarly Interests

  • Human-animal interaction
  • Nurse resilience, wellbeing, adaptability, mindfulness
  • Collaborative learning
  • Nursing leadership
  • Educational leadership
  • Psychophysiological research
  • Disaster preparedness and response

I also welcome collaborations in research. You can see some of my scholarly work here.

Our nursing programs at Western aim to shape the future of nursing, creating a resilient, diverse, and empowered workforce that meets the ever-evolving healthcare challenges.

Join us on this journey of discovery and transformation!


2013, Post-Master’s in Nursing Education, University of Texas Health Science Center School of Nursing

2013, Ph.D., University of Texas Health Science Center School of Nursing

2010, Master of Science in Nursing Leadership & Administration, University of Texas Health Science Center School of Nursing

1996, Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Texas Woman’s University Houston

1993, Bachelor of Science in Psychology, University of Houston


Other Education

UTHealth, Fellow - Health Educators Fellowship Program

TeamSTEPPS Master Trainer/Faculty – American Hospital Association

Basic Life Support for Healthcare Providers/Instructor - American Heart Association


TeamSTEPPS® Faculty Trainer - American Hospital Association

STOP THE BLEED ® Trainer ACS Committee on Trauma (ACS COT)

Community Emergency Response Team (Harris County) - Federal Emergency Management Agency