Please welcome Assistant Professor Julio Loya, PhD, RN, who joined the University of Arizona College of Nursing in January. Dr. Loya completed his PhD in Nursing at the University of Missouri Sinclair School of Nursing in July 2021. Prior to joining the UArizona, Dr. Loya was the Senior Nurse Manager of the subacute Neuro/trauma unit at Banner University Medical Center where he also assisted in the College’s acute care undergraduate coursework. Dr. Loya’s research interest is in the prevention and treatment of Diabetes Mellitus Type 2 among Mexican Americans. He is a long-time volunteer at Clinica Amistad and conducted his dissertation research on interventions to improve physical activity there.
“I believe higher education should prepare individuals beyond content mastery. As an educator, I strive to create a learning environment fostering critical thinking and problem solving. If students are to become change agents, they need to understand not simply facts, but how the knowledge they acquire can be utilized to augment their advocacy," ~ Julio Loya, PhD, RN
What drew you to a career in nursing?
I originally enrolled at the University of Arizona as a biology major with the intention of applying to medical school. After my freshman year, I decided not to pursue medical school and instead obtain a graduate degree in biology. When I started my senior year, I realized I did not want to pursue a graduate degree in biology. At the suggestion of my brother, I decided to look into the requirements of going to nursing school. I did not grow up with aspirations of becoming a nurse, and I distinctly remember going to my first nursing lecture and wondering if I was going to like nursing. After the very first lecture, I absolutely fell in love with the nursing profession! I am celebrating 18 years as a nurse in July of this year.
What attracted you to the UArizona College of Nursing?
As an alumnus of the University of Arizona, I have been aware of the reputation of UArizona as a world-class research and educational institution. The UArizona College of Nursing greatly contributes to this reputation. As a nurse in the Tucson community, I have worked alongside UArizona nursing alumni, educators, and researchers and have always been very impressed by the commitment and dedication to help others. Becoming part of the nursing faculty was a personal goal as soon as I embarked on my PhD journey. I am elated to finally accomplish this goal!
Tell us more about your research interest is in the prevention and treatment of Diabetes Mellitus Type 2 among Mexican Americans?
My research interests focus primarily on ameliorating the deleterious effects of Diabetes Mellitus Type 2 (T2DM) in adult Mexican Americans through culturally-adapted interventions. My research attempts to change physical activity behaviors of previously sedentary Mexican American individuals with T2DM. I use a community-based participatory research approach to attempt to learn how to best engage participants in the community. I am also interested in finding ways with which to sustain long-term adherence to behavioral changes.
What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe higher education should prepare individuals beyond content mastery. As an educator, I strive to create a learning environment fostering critical thinking and problem solving. If students are to become change agents, they need to understand not simply facts, but how the knowledge they acquire can be utilized to augment their advocacy. My expectations of students include being active participants in their learning, and using the material learned as a foundation for the next level of their journeys. To accomplish this, I rely on real-world examples as applicable to demonstrate how the concepts relate to current conditions or events. Mentorship has been an influential aspect of my journey; to support students through mentorship, I make myself available through office hours as well as appointments. As a life-long learner, I request feedback from students about all aspects of my teaching to continue learning and improving. I truly believe that each interaction is an opportunity to not only teach, but to learn from students to become a better educator.
Where are you from originally?
I was originally born in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. I moved to Tucson, Ariz. in 1992 and have been living here ever since. I completed middle school and high school in Tucson; my first undergraduate degree is from UArizona. I definitely consider Tucson my hometown.
What do you like to do in your free time?
In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my lovely wife Krista and our two dogs Shadow and Luna, reading, learning electric guitar and bass, and playing golf.