Purdue Nursing professor making statewide impact

Nursing Clinical Associate Professor Julian Gallegos stands for a picture

Appointed by Governor Eric Holcomb, Julian Gallegos, Purdue University School of Nursing clinical associate professor, is the first Hispanic member of the Indiana State Board of Nursing. Purdue Nursing’s first Hispanic male faculty member, he was also awarded the 2022 Indiana State Nurses Association Pillar Award for his “advocacy, professionalism, unity and leadership.”Tim Brouk

Written by: Tim Brouk, tbrouk@purdue.edu

It was a summer to remember for Julian Gallegos, clinical associate professor in Purdue University’s School of Nursing.

In June, Gallegos earned a place on the Indiana State Board of Nursing, making him the first Hispanic member of the board in its history, and he is the board’s first advanced practice nurse. Most of the board is comprised of registered and licensed practical nurses.

“It’s an honor to be on the board, and it’s an appointed position by the governor (Eric Holcomb),” said Gallegos, who will serve through June 30, 2026. “It’s been very eye-opening to me, just to see the way the board works.”

Then, on Sept. 9, Gallegos received the Indiana State Nurses Association Pillar Award, which is awarded to “a nursing exemplar that practices all four pillars of ISNA including advocacy, professionalism, unity and leadership.”

When he’s not being showered with Indiana honors, appointments and awards, Gallegos is the director of the Purdue School of Nursing Doctor of Nursing Practice Program and teaches graduate nursing student classes in advanced pathophysiology, pharmacology and health assessment as well as a family nurse practitioner course. He also treats patients one day a week in his men’s health practice within Purdue’s North Central Nursing Clinics, commonly known as the Family Health Clinic of Delphi, Monon, Wolcott and Burlington.

Also the first Hispanic male faculty member in Purdue Nursing’s history, Gallegos participated in two Indiana State Board of Nursing meetings so far, which are open to the public in downtown Indianapolis. Most of the work involves reviewing cases of “consumer protection” — incident reports of nurses under review for malpractice, substance use, prescription drug diversion and other actions that could affect the nurse’s performance and, in turn, the patient’s health. The cases are presented to the board by the Indiana district attorney’s office.

What has the work been like with these Board of Nursing cases, and why is this work important?

We’re reviewing these cases to determine whether the nurse is capable of practicing the profession of nursing in a safe manner. We have to determine if we have to suspend or revoke licensure.

We’re there to ensure that patients receiving care from nurses are receiving care that is safe.  

What kind of cases are you seeing lately?

You can see trends of nurses who are stressed and who take the road of using substances to help cope with life-work stress. Sometimes they use what is convenient to them. They’re around these medications that they should be giving to the patients, but they are diverting them and giving them to themselves.

It’s a common problem not only with nurses but with physicians because of the high-stress environment.

How did you get on the governor’s radar to be appointed to the Indiana State Board of Nursing?

I was nominated by the Coalition of Advanced Practice Registered Nurses of Indiana. This professional organization promotes advanced practice nurses within the state. They work with lobbyists in the state of Indiana.

In 2020, there was a law that was passed through the state legislature that required that an advanced practice nurse sit on the Board of Nursing. Up to this point, they had not had an advanced practice nurse on the board. It wasn’t until 2022 that it was filled with my position.

I’m also one of two nurses on the board that actually has experience in academia. The board also accredits new undergraduate nursing programs and makes changes to existing programs, so I bring a skillset of understanding the standards for academic programs.

Since your arrival in August 2020, how are your students doing, especially with the pandemic influencing much of your time at Purdue?

Many of our graduate students are practicing nurses. So, the stress of working bedside in the hospital and then the addition of grad school on top of that … they’re asked to work overtime. My first cohort, they struggled a little bit, but there was a lot of compassion and empathy by the faculty here. The students were given some leeway because sometimes they were forced to work extra. A lot of them were on COVID-19 units and a lot of others were in critical care areas.

What goals do you have for your time on the board?

My position there is to help get us through the backlog. Right now, there is a backlog of cases, which is unfortunate for the state of Indiana. Getting these cases through is important. That way, nurses can move on, whether the outcome is good or bad. It just needs to be taken care of.