The Texas State Technical College nursing division in Harlingen is celebrating its second consecutive 100 percent national exam pass rate for its vocational nursing program. The milestone is a mark of distinction for the department working to relieve a shortage of nurses in the Rio Grande Valley and across the state.
“We hold all of our students to a high standard,” said Heather Sauceda, TSTC vocational nursing program director. “Here at TSTC we produce skilled, competent and compassionate nurses who we can trust in the field to fill the gap in patient care.”
For a vocational nursing graduate to become licensed as an LVN, he or she must first pass the National Council Licensure Examination. This gives them the right to practice nursing in the state.
According to the Texas Center for Nursing Workforce Studies of the Texas Department of State Health Services, Texas will see continued demand for registered nurses through 2030. Additionally, Texas is the highest employer of licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Among the contributing factors to the rising need for nurses are an increase in demand for health care services, an aging population, an increase of chronic disease, new patient-centered medical homes and health centers, and nursing personnel who are nearing retirement.
Harlingen Medical Center Chief Nursing Officer Amy Flores oversees more than 200 nurses, with a large of number of them, she says, retiring within the next five to 10 years.
“The future is bright for nursing right now. We’re going to be scrambling to find enough (nurses) soon,” she said. “And it’s important now, more than ever, that we have more colleges and qualified staff to train new nurses.”
Jean Lashbrook, TSTC’s statewide nursing division director, said that the approval in 2017 for a new registered nursing program at TSTC’s Harlingen campus has allowed them to train more students pursuing the field.
“We started with a cohort of 30 students in Fall 2017, but after three years we plan on increasing the number of students accepted, along with increasing faculty,” she said.
The first cohort will be graduating this summer.