(BRECKENRIDGE, Texas) – Sammi Stephenson hopes to become a trendsetter.

Stephenson hopes that more nurses like her enroll in Texas State Technical College’s Occupational Safety and Environmental Compliance program. She admitted that she began the program because it interested her but quickly learned that it was more than she expected.

“The program did interest me. It was something I had some education in before, but I wanted to learn more,” she said. “In almost every job, there is going to be some type of OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) compliance and compliance officers are going to be needed.”

According to, the need for occupational health and safety technicians will increase in Texas 16% by 2028. A technician’s median salary in Texas is $46,840.

Stephenson talked to nurses both in person and online about what she has learned so far.

“I started opening the door up for discussion with people I know in the nursing field,” she said. “A lot of them showed interest and wanted to learn more.”

Stephenson said the more that people learn about the program being available in West Texas, the more it has the possibility to grow.

“I know this program has not been offered for a long time, but once the ball gets rolling and people know about it, there should be a lot of interest in our area,” she said.

Instructor Teresa Purcell said Stephenson is a perfect student for the program.

“The knowledge of the medical field will help her understand the health and safety importance of workers’ health in daily activities,” she said. “She knows how important it is to follow safety protocols to keep the worker safe from hazards in the workplace. When a worker is exposed to hazards like air pollution, unsafe drinking water, or biological or ergonomics hazards, (Stephenson) has the upper hand of the effects on the body, having worked as a nurse.”

Stephenson has moved away from being a daily bedside nurse, but she still wants to make sure that people are safe.

“The health and safety of others is really important to me,” she said. “I figured with all of my past jobs, this would be a different route to take, and I have enjoyed it so far.”

Stephenson said having an experienced instructor leading the program is important in order for her to become a qualified technician.

“She (Purcell) is wonderful and knows a lot about the program,” she said. “She truly wants to know you more than as a student, and the communication we have is great. She wants to get to know her students on a more personal level to make sure they succeed.”

Purcell said Stephenson is always engaged during lab sessions and that will help her in the field.

“She has shown that she is a caring individual, always making sure things are taken care of with top priority,” she said. “She speaks what’s on her mind, is engaged in classroom activities, and shares things she has witnessed in the nursing field that pertain to everyone’s safety in daily activities.”

Stephenson knows that studying for an Associate of Applied Science degree will be a challenge over the next two years. She is glad to be able to study at home and attend lab sessions at the Breckenridge campus.

“I am excited I am able to take classes so close to my home,” she said.

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