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New RN Program to Start Fall Semester
[Monday, July 30, 2012]
 Texas State Technical College (TSTC) Harlingen recently received approval to begin a Registered Nurse (RN) program to meet the health-care needs of the medically underserved Rio Grande Valley.

“Hospitals, clinics, doctors, and administrators that cooperate with TSTC have an urgent workforce demand for registered nurses. There is a shortage of medical professionals as the baby boomers age and the needs grow for more health care so this program is a perfect fit for the region and the state. We’ve had such a student demand for the program that we’re going to have to look for ways to expand it,” college President Dr. Cesar Maldonado said.

The RN Program recently gained accreditation from the Texas Board of Nursing (TBN) rounding out the college’s Allied Health Technology Division which already includes Vocational Nursing (VN) and Nurse Assistant (NA) programs. The RN classes will begin August 27 and the new program represents the highest level of nurse training provided by two-year colleges.

“Our RN Program is designed to accommodate the college’s top students within the Allied Health Technology Division including those who spend one year to complete the Vocational Nursing Program. It’s a full RN program covering the full RN curriculum. Everything in this program will put graduates on track toward more success in their nursing career or in pursuing a bachelor’s degree,” RN Chair Rachel L. Wilson said.

An RN designation qualifies nurses to perform initial and discharge assessments for patients. They generally supervise patient care and delegate work to licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) and certified nurse assistants (CNAs). The initial RN class includes LVNs from TSTC, Valley Baptist Medical Center-Harlingen, South Texas College and the University of Texas at Brownsville. Patty Garza of Lyford and Bruce Ruiz of La Feria will return to campus as RN students; they were among the first VN graduates at TSTC in 2010.

“The new RN Program makes my education much more convenient,” said Ruiz, who works at Atrium Nursing & Rehabilitation in Harlingen. “I took the opportunity to get into the VN Program and I love my work. I was excited about applying for admission when I heard TSTC would offer the RN Program.”

Garza, formerly an LVN at Su Clinica Familiar in Raymondville, said that placing an RN Program at TSTC is important for local students that otherwise would have difficulties traveling farther to classes. “I see this as a stairway that students and faculty are going to climb together. It’s an honor and a blessing to be part of the first RN cohort. I knew that TSTC would eventually have the RN Program in our community and it’s something to take pride in. It’s a dream come true to take on this challenge,” she said.

Moises Cruz of Harlingen is in the Medical Assistant (MA) Program at TSTC. He plans to complete the MA Program in December before he advances at TSTC to an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree, then the VN Program and finally the RN Program. “I chose this career field because I’ve always been an outgoing person and I like to help people,” he said. “It’s a good feeling when I help a patient feel better. The new RN Program gives me a chance to take advantage of a program here without traveling to Brownsville or Edinburg.”

Wilson said that nurses answer a special calling as they devote themselves to training and career responsibilities to serve patients and their families. “The intensity and rigor of these courses do not compare to two- or three-hour online sessions. The courses are designed for forty-hour weeks and by the end of the program students spend twenty hours per week on clinical experience. We will push our graduates to uphold a high standard of excellence and success.”

Graduates will earn an AAS Degree in Nursing (ADN) after successfully completing six semesters of courses and clinical experiences that include regular training under professional supervision. The program takes three years of studies and requires 72 credits starting with fundamental academics and finishing with medical courses. Registered nurses also must pass the TBN exam and a national standards exam.

Details about prerequisites and admissions procedures for the RN Program at TSTC are available at http://www.harlingen.tstc.edu/RN/index.aspx.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics reported in 2010 that the nation’s RN workforce should grow by 26 percent before 2020. It listed median pay for such jobs at $31.10 per hour for an annual salary of $64,690.