Erzsebet Pigler Guerra

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Although Erzsebet Pigler-Guerra had worked as a registered nurse for 12 years in her native Hungary and in England, she discovered that her nursing qualifications differed from those required in America when she started a new life in Harlingen with her husband, who had been stationed overseas in the U.S. Air Force.

She would have to start her nursing career over from square one.

Undaunted, and after researching various nursing programs, Pigler-Guerra enrolled at Texas State Technical College to pursue a certificate of completion in Vocational Nursing.

The nursing field first piqued her curiosity at a young age.

“I used to play with a first-aid toy kit when I was little,” she said. “It was a simple matter such as fixing a person’s cut. It made me feel good. Then the idea of becoming a nurse became a great interest.”

The first-semester student is very pleased with her choice to study at TSTC. She said there are several elements that make her appreciate the program.

“Each instructor has teaching methods that are relevant, clear and to the point,” she said. “What I admire is they really care about their students.”

Her favorite experiences so far include the on-site clinicals and the realism of the medical manikins. In addition, her class recently visited Valley Regional Medical Center in Brownsville.

“These manikins are amazing because they can scream, shout and also have blood pressure,” she said. “As for the hospital, I loved being back in that environment and simply observing the nurses.”

Daniel Martin, a TSTC Vocational Nursing instructor at the Harlingen campus, said his student has shown great leadership with her classmates.

“I am most impressed by her ability to apply the information the way it is taught and share it,” he said.

Pigler-Guerra earned a diploma and qualifications to work as a registered nurse (the U.S. equivalent of a vocational nurse) at Tiszaparti Medical Vocational High School in Szolnok, Hungary, in 1996. For a while she studied at Semmelweis University in Budapest in hopes of becoming a doctor.

A few years later, she moved to England and accepted a job as a care assistant at the Risby Park Nursing Home in Suffolk. During that time, she completed a program at the Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College (now Buckinghamshire New University) to obtain a license as a registered nurse.

Pigler-Guerra then worked at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge as a registered nurse until she met her husband.

TSTC’s Vocational Nursing certificate program is available at the Breckenridge, Harlingen and Sweetwater campuses. Upon completion of the program and passing the National Council Licensure Examination, graduates are classified as licensed vocational nurses (LVNs).

According to, LVN jobs are forecast to increase 11% in Texas by 2028. The median salary for LVNs in Texas is $47,760, the website showed.

TSTC also offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Nursing at the Harlingen and Sweetwater campuses.

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