UTHSC College of Nursing Dean Wendy Likes Named A 2021 Health Care Hero

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Wendy Likes, PhD, DNSc, APRN-Bc, FAANP, said that as an MSN student in the College of Nursing at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in the 1990s, she never thought she would be a faculty member, much less the dean of the college.

Dean Wendy Likes

Dean of the UTHSC College of Nursing since 2015, this week she was named a 2021 Health Care Hero in the category of Administrative Excellence by the Memphis Business Journal. The Health Care Hero Awards recognize the leadership of health care professionals in the community, highlighting their contributions to their respective fields.

“I am honored to receive this recognition and to work with outstanding faculty, staff, and students who share in the vision of living our lives for a greater purpose,” Dean Likes said. “I have been fortunate to have a career where I can give back and have the opportunity to work with such a stellar team of dedicated and passionate individuals.”

A three-time UTHSC alumna, Dean Likes earned her MSN, DNSc, and PhD degrees from the institution. She is also a certified family nurse practitioner who works with patients who have cancer and pre-invasive gynecologic conditions. She is the founder and executive director for the Center for HPV and Dysplasia at Regional One Health, where she also has a clinical practice.

During her tenure, Dean Likes has set the following goals for the college: Working to raise the college’s national standing, increasing the student body, adding more degree and certificate offerings, attracting accomplished faculty, and improving the research profile.

Under her leadership, the College of Nursing’s DNP program is nationally ranked at No. 26 on the U.S. News & World Report list of DNP programs for 2022. The magazine also ranked BSN programs for the first time in 2022, and the UTHSC College of Nursing was the highest-ranked BSN program in Tennessee, making the list at 43. Also this year, the college attained status as a National League for Nursing Center of  ExcellenceTM in the category of Enhancing Student Learning and Professional Development.

Research has been a major focus of the college under the dean’s leadership. The college is again the No. 1 NIH-funded college of nursing in Tennessee.

Dean Likes has made an impact through research, as well. She has served as principal investigator or co-investigator for more than $3 million in grants and special project funding from organizations including the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Energy. She has authored or contributed to more than 30 peer-reviewed journal articles; given roughly 80 presentations at regional, national, and international health care industry conferences, conventions, and meetings; and served on numerous health care committees and advisory boards.

Dean Likes holds leadership roles in a variety of professional organizations. She has served as co-chair of the Education Committee for the American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology; chair of the Research and Awards Committee for Sigma Theta Tau-Beta Theta chapter; and as a member of the Board of Directors for the Tennessee Center for Workforce Development with the Tennessee Hospital Association. In 2017, she was appointed by the Tennessee Governor to serve on the Healing Arts Committee.

“We have grown tremendously over the last six to seven years, from the number of faculty, to research funding, to academic programs, and beyond. We have had a focus as a college on innovation to meet the workforce needs and health needs of our community. Our faculty, staff, and students share in our common vision of being an invaluable resource in using innovation to transform health care,” she said. “I am beyond blessed to serve the college and the university.”