(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Jesus Herrera will never forget when his young daughter was being treated in the intensive care unit at Valley Baptist Medical Center for a rare medical condition.
His daughter improved, and the patient care provided by the nurses inspired Herrera to pursue an education in health care at Texas State Technical College’s Harlingen campus.
“I wanted to give back because the nurses helped my daughter,” he said. “So I enrolled in the Nursing program at TSTC. I worked as a waiter in the morning and in lawn service in the afternoon. It gave me the balance to focus on my studies and clinicals.”
After receiving his certificate, Herrera went to work as a full-time vocational nurse at Valley Baptist Medical Center, the same hospital where his daughter had been in ICU.
With the addition of his associate degree, Herrera was promoted to a full-time registered nurse at the same hospital in 2020.
“The majority of my work is in neurosurgery, where I assist the surgeons,” he said. “Our focus is to ensure a patient’s surgery is a success.”
Aurora Ybarra, assistant director of nursing for Surgical Services at Valley Baptist Medical Center, said Herrera’s leadership in the operating room is essential.
“Jesus does a fantastic job by coordinating everyone’s efforts for the good of the patient,” Ybarra said. “He has excellent communication skills, organization (and) attention to detail.”
While at TSTC, Herrera participated in clinicals, the part of nursing training in which students — under supervision — get to apply some of their knowledge at actual medical facilities.
“I enjoyed clinicals because that’s where you learn about the different areas you will work,” he said. “I remember a case I worked on when I saw an X-ray of a patient’s broken femur. I was amazed when I saw the metal plate and screws that were connected to the femur.”
He added that the pandemic nearly halted clinicals.
“The Nursing instructors had to find a way for us to comply with the hours that the nursing board requires for us to graduate,” he said. “They found some online training for us to complete our hours.”
Adrienne Reyes, TSTC’s Nursing program director, said Herrera is a natural leader.
“Jesus had a passion that was unmatched,” Reyes said. “His outgoing personality made him an outstanding student. His classmates gravitated to his encouragement. These traits are important and translate to the care that is provided to patients.”
Herrera looks forward to giving encouragement to his wife and sister-in-law, both of whom have been accepted to TSTC’s Vocational Nursing program.
“I’m thrilled because they will start in the fall,” he said.
TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Nursing at its Harlingen and Sweetwater campuses. A Vocational Nursing certificate of completion is offered at the Breckenridge, Harlingen and Sweetwater campuses.
Registration for TSTC’s fall semester is underway. For more information, visit tstc.edu.