September 12, 2022
Uniqua Smith, Ph.D., honored with Julie and Ben Rogers Award for Excellence
BY Elise Raymund
HOUSTON― The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center has awarded Uniqua Smith, Ph.D., executive director of Workforce Health & Wellness, the Julie and Ben Rogers Award for Excellence in Cancer Administration. The annual award recognizes employees who consistently demonstrate excellence in their work and dedication to MD Anderson’s mission to end cancer. The award’s focus rotates annually among the areas of patient care, research, education, prevention and administration.
Peter WT Pisters, M.D., president of MD Anderson, and Regina Rogers, a Life Member of the MD Anderson Cancer Center Board of Visitors (BOV), hosted a virtual awards ceremony today announcing Smith as the 2022 recipient. Smith received a $15,000 prize and a framed certificate of merit.
Four additional finalists were recognized along with Smith. They each received a $2,500 prize as well as a certificate of merit:
- Liz Burton, executive director, STRIDE, Genomic Medicine
- Laura Comer, division administrator, Surgery, Clinical
- Devina Patel, director, Environmental Health and Safety, Sustainability and Emergency Management
- Enrique (Rick) Valdez, Jr., associate director, Research Planning and Development, Health Disparities Research
Nursing administrator implements best practices in cancer care
Smith directs MD Anderson’s quality improvement and evidence-based practice programs in nursing, overseeing the mentorship of more than 4,400 nurses at the institution. Smith guides nurses as they disseminate academic findings through abstracts, conference presentations and journal publications. Her work ensures best practices are implemented and shared not only throughout the institution but across the world.
“Mentorship is one of the most important steps in the professional practice of nurses as it allows us to share best practices with the national and international nursing community. It is our duty to share with our peers,” Smith said. “Each time we improve our practice, we are one step closer to ending cancer.”
Smith also directs MD Anderson’s COVID-19 Swab Team, a collaborative effort across the institution which establishes testing guidelines, expedites testing processes and works to prevent nosocomial infections. The COVID-19 Swab Team ensures patient and staff safety without delaying cancer treatment.
Under her leadership, the COVID-19 Swab Team received MD Anderson's 2021 Nursing Quality Caring Award for Interprofessional Team. Smith has received numerous recognitions, including MD Anderson’s 2022 Staff Educator of the Year, Houston Chronicle’s Top 150 Nurses in the Greater Houston Area and Texas Nurses Association District 9’s 2021 Health Care Hero.
Rogers Award celebrates family’s longtime commitment to Making Cancer History®
Regina Rogers, who has served on the Board of Visitors since 1990, established the Julie and Ben Rogers Award for Excellence in 1987 in honor of her parents, the late Julie and Ben Rogers. This year marks the 35th anniversary of the award’s establishment.
“For more than three decades, the Rogers Award has served to remind us of the Rogers family’s incredible generosity and commitment to end cancer. The spirit of their giving is an inspiration to us all,” Pisters said.
The Rogers family’s involvement with MD Anderson, spanning more than 60 years, inspires Regina’s continued advocacy.
In 1960, Regina’s brother, Arvey Rogers, M.D., was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. A lengthy and successful surgery performed by MD Anderson’s Edgar C. White, M.D., and R. Lee Clark, M.D., enabled him to continue to lead a normal life. In 1987, Regina’s mother, Julie Rogers, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Through the surgical expertise of Richard Martin, M.D., and Fred Ames, M.D., she recovered and remained an active supporter of MD Anderson until her death in February 1998. Regina’s father, Ben Rogers, served on the Board of Visitors from 1978 until his death in 1994.
"I am grateful for the opportunity to continue this award in honor of my beloved parents and to recognize excellence at an institution that has played such an important role in my family—and across the world—in eliminating cancer as a major health threat," Rogers said.
Mentorship is one of the most important steps in the professional practice of nurses... Each time we improve our practice, we are one step closer to ending cancer.
Uniqua Smith, Ph.D.