(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Texas State Technical College Nursing students attended a recruiting event with Doctors Hospital at Renaissance on Tuesday — and at least one Licensed Vocational Nursing student, Audrey Gonzales, walked away with a job.
“I was ecstatic,” she said of the moment recruiters offered her the position. “Being in school, it’s very difficult to work and to provide for your family. This was going to allow me to continue my education and also provide my own financial stability. It was a load off my chest. This is what I’ve been waiting for.”
A team from DHR visited the TSTC campus to talk about the opportunities available at the health system, which employs 6,000 Rio Grande Valley residents, as it expands to a new Brownsville location.
“We get a lot of patients that come from the Lower Valley (to Edinburg),” said Marcos Gutierrez, a nurse recruiter at DHR. “We want to make sure we’re bringing the services to the community rather than have these individuals traveling. We want to hire people from the community to serve the people in the community.”
Gutierrez, a 1989 graduate of what was then called Texas State Technical Institute and a former instructor, was impressed with how engaged and curious the Nursing students were during the two presentations — one for LVN students and another for registered nursing students.
“It’s really fantastic to see brand-new nurses so enthusiastic about providing care to patients,” he said. “I’m a nurse too, so I’m really happy to see it’s a reinvestment by their part in providing a service.”
Gutierrez added that it was special to come full circle at TSTC — studying and teaching at the college before returning to recruit students for jobs.
“It’s amazing — we’re very lucky to have a pipeline like this with a ready-made labor force,” he said. “We’re very lucky that TSTC opens the door to us.”
The demand for nurses in the RGV is very high, Gutierrez said. This is particularly true as DHR prepares to open the doors of its new Brownsville hospital this fall.
“Anything in allied health — whether it’s nursing or whether it’s radiology or surgical tech, the demand is overwhelming,” he said. “Anything in allied health — and particularly nursing — is the field to be in, absolutely.”
A successful hospital includes a team of skilled individuals with experience in many different fields, Gutierrez pointed out. It is not just doctors and nurses.
“We need people who do construction, (and) diesel mechanics because we have diesel machines for the generators,” he said. “We need pretty much everything you provide here at TSTC.”
TSTC offers a 16-month certificate of completion in Vocational Nursing and a 20-month Associate of Applied Science degree in Nursing, which is a transition program for current LVNs that will classify them as registered nurses.
Licensed vocational nurses can make an average salary of $47,760 in Texas, with a projected job growth of 11% by 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Registered nurses can earn an average of $75,320 per year in Texas, with a projected job growth of 17% by 2028, according to onetonline.org.
Enrollment for the fall semester at TSTC is underway. For more information, visit tstc.edu.