(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Before Janie Rodriguez became the newest Nursing instructor at Texas State Technical College’s campus in Harlingen, she already knew many of her future colleagues — and even students.
She completed her master’s degree practicum at TSTC in March, implementing an experiential learning activity for the cohort of students at the time alongside TSTC Nursing instructor Adrienne Reyes. The unfolding case study incorporated a classroom portion with discussion and hands-on lab training.
The feedback Rodriguez received from the students was overwhelmingly positive.
“They even said, ‘Oh, I hope you come and work over here,’” she recalled. “I’ve had old students that are from the LVN school where I used to work — students now here with TSTC — and they are so excited, like, ‘Ms. Rodriguez, are you going to be our instructor?’ I think that positive feedback is what kind of drove me to apply to TSTC.”
Rodriguez brings 18 years of nursing experience with her to her new role at TSTC. Her professional background extends from medical-surgery nursing to emergency room work in Brownsville, Corpus Christi, Harlingen and McAllen. But when a position she held was eliminated, Rodriguez discovered her true passion in the field of nursing: teaching.
“Teaching students is my favorite part. Grading? Not so much,” Rodriguez said with a laugh. “I’m looking forward to clinicals. I’m a hands-on type of person, so I can’t wait to really get out there and work with the students face to face.”
Having a Nursing instructor who could jump right in was important to the program, TSTC lead Nursing instructor Shirley Byrd said.
“We’re so excited to have her — she really works on her own,” Byrd said. “She hits the road running because we have to have somebody like that. Fortunately, she was a good fit.”
Since Rodriguez has so much experience working with licensed vocational nurses, she will be able to guide TSTC students even better on their journey to advance their training in the allied health industry.
TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Nursing, a Vocational Nursing certificate, and a 12-month transition program for LVNs, which classifies them as registered nurses after they pass the National Council Licensure Examination.
“I think she knows where to meet the students — where they are at the LVN status — and will be able to bring them forward adequately,” Byrd said. “The hardest thing coming into this program is distinguishing between what LVN responsibilities are and what RN responsibilities are. There’s a big gap there, and we have to sort of fill in that gap. It’s easier to fall back and be an LVN than it is to go forward and learn more to be an RN. We have to stay on top of that, and I think she’ll be able to do that.”
The biggest piece of advice Rodriguez has to offer her students is to seize on what they love.
“Find out what drives you. Find a passion,” she said. “The cool thing about nursing is there’s so many venues and different areas to go to you can never be bored. Nursing is really rewarding.”
In Texas, registered nurses can earn an average annual salary of $75,320, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Onetonline.org predicts that registered nurse positions in the state will increase by 17% through 2028.
Learn more about TSTC at tstc.edu.