Nursing program welcomes new class

BY Amanda Sotelo

The Fall 2017 semester marked a new beginning for the Registered Nursing program at Texas State Technical College and the 30 students who make up its newly formed class.

The students are part of TSTC’s licensed vocational nurse to registered nurse transition program. It’s a one-of-a-kind in Cameron County and has already proved to be a highly-competitive and an in-demand program.

TSTC Vocational Registered Nursing Program Director Shirley Byrd said it was always the college’s number one priority to reopen the program after a two-year hiatus to revamp curriculum and improve passing rates.

“We’re back and ready to produce highly-skilled, compassionate nurses,” said Byrd. “We have a lot of support from TSTC administration and the excitement surrounding this program is immense.”

TSTC’s Vocational Registered Nursing program accepts 30 students per year and the program runs from August to August.

And for many students like Daniel Avila, who had to compete with 60 other applicants to be accepted into the program’s inaugural class, this means a chance at a new career and life for him and his family.

Avila, husband and father of two, is already a licensed vocational nurse. He graduated from Rio Grande Valley College in 2013 and works in the home health care sector.

The 25-year-old said TSTC’s nursing program puts him one step closer to his long-term goal of becoming a nurse practitioner and being able to better support his family.

He added he was first inspired to pursue a nursing career after his son spent two weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit.

“I love what I do right now, but I know being a registered nurse will open doors of opportunity for me,” he said. “I want to be an advocate for patients the way my son’s nurses were for him.”

Avila said he could have chosen to do nursing anywhere, but he chose TSTC because Byrd and other nursing program staff believed in him immediately and were great at communicating what was needed to apply unlike other programs he had looked into.

“TSTC really helps us strive to be our best,” added Avila. “Everyone wants us to succeed, probably more than we want to. This is the setting that will help me be a leader in my field.”

Students enrolled in TSTC’s Registered Nursing program will learn advanced nursing skills such as intravenous (IV) therapy, patient assessment and care planning, in addition to managerial skills.

TSTC nursing students will have access to a new state-of-the-art nursing center on campus with classrooms and simulation labs filled with the latest technologies used in the nursing and medical fields.

“Our goal for this program is to not only teach to have a 100 percent national exam pass rate, but also produce dedicated and compassionate nurses,” said Byrd.

Students who successfully complete the nursing program, must also pass the National Council Licensure Examination, a standardized exam required by the state board of nursing.

Careers in nursing are available at places such as hospitals, clinics and long-term care facilities.

As for Avila, he said he is keeping an open mind about what he will do when he graduates in August 2018, but for now added that he is thankful for the opportunity of being accepted into this program.

“So far the program has exceeded all of my expectations,” he said. “This is something I have wanted for a long time.”

Applications for the Fall 2018 class open in March 2018.

For more information on the RN program, call the TSTC Nursing Center at 956-364-4983 or visit