Overseeing the curriculum office, district-wide libraries and counseling office for student success, Paula R. Mitchell, EdD, was initially encouraged by her school’s director of nursing to become involved professionally in the organization and company. As a health professional and as a nurse, she had a duty to the public and the community to serve and as she moved throughout her career, she kept that in mind in the positions she took and the community as well. Dr. Mitchell first joined El Paso Community College in Texas as a nursing instructor in 1979, remaining in this position for six years while also serving as curriculum facilitator for one year. She then moved up the ranks to numerous other roles including acting division chairman of health occupations, director of nursing, division dean, and dean of health occupations, mathematics and science. Currently, she has served as the interim associate vice president for instructions on student success and the dean of health career technology, education, mathematics and science at the school’s Rio Grande campus since 2008.
In addition to this tenure, Dr. Mitchell served as a nurse practitioner in obstetrics-gynecology at Planned Parenthood from 1981 to 1986, also serving on the medical committee from 1986 to 1998. Moreover, she is a consultant in her field. If not just the self-gratification of being successful, what also motivates Dr. Mitchell goes back to what her director of nursing said; it is to serve the community and make the world a better place to live in.
Prior to the start of her professional career, Dr. Mitchell pursued a formal education at Graceland University in Lamoni, Iowa, earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 1973. During this time, she served as a captain the U.S. Army from 1972 to 1978, also serving as an officer in the medical department of the Army’s Academy of Health Sciences. She then matriculated at the University of Texas, where she received a Master of Science in Nursing in 1976. After graduating with a master’s degree, Dr. Mitchell enlisted as a captain in the U.S. Army Reserves for two decades, starting in 1978.
Dr. Mitchell went on to obtain an EdD in educational administration from New Mexico State University in 1996. Additionally, she became a certified childbirth educator through the American Society of Psychoprophylaxis Obstetrics in 1978, and has been certified in ambulatory women’s health care through the Nurses Association of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists since 1983. Dr. Mitchell is also a registered nurse in the state of Missouri.
Heavily involved in her local community, Dr. Mitchell founded and served on the board of Health-CREST in El Paso from 1981 to 1985 and served the American Cancer Society, Inc., on both its public education and professional activities committees. She also was on the collaborative council of El Paso Magnet High School for Health Care Professions and was active with Unite El Paso Health, among many others. More recently, Dr. Mitchell has served on the Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce’s health professional shortage task force since 2001 and health care council since 2002, and the El Paso Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster as chair since 2013 and a member of the steering committee since 2014.
A prolific writer, Dr. Mitchell co-authored two editions of the book “Nursing Perspectives and Issues” in 1989 and 1993, respectively. Likewise, she has contributed myriad articles to professional journals. A member of countless organizations, Dr. Mitchell current roles include serving on the commission on accreditation and as a site visitor at physical therapist assistant programs with the American Physical Therapist Association since 1991, treasurer of the El Paso Commission for Women since 2007 and chair of the Phoenician Award Committee since 2009. Moreover, she has been the El Paso chapter commodore of the American Legion and Military Order of the World Wars since 2012, and junior vice commander of Region 13, national vice commander and chief of the El Paso Commission since 2015.
A recipient of numerous honors and accolades, including many as a result of her military service, Dr. Mitchell was inducted into the El Paso Commission Women’s Hall of Fame in 1999. In recent years, she was bestowed with the Distinguished Service Award by the Texas Society of Allied Health Professionals in 2013 and the Excellence Award by NISOD in 2014, among many others. Furthermore, Dr. Mitchell was selected for inclusion in the third edition of Who’s Who Among Human Services Professionals and several editions of other Who’s Who publications.
Dr. Mitchell’s college courses in nursing, professional issues in nursing, giving back to the community and striving to be the best nurse she could be have inspired and motivated along her professional journey. Her willingness to tackle difficult issues, accept challenges and remain positive separates her from others in the field.