TSTC Vocational Nursing student Martha Arellano uses a blood pressure cuff to monitor the vital signs and blood pressure of a medical manikin during a recent lab session.

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – A commitment to patient care is something that Martha Arellano is familiar with not only as a former dental assistant, but also as the wife of a registered nurse.

That dedication to helping others led her to the Vocational Nursing program at Texas State Technical College’s Harlingen campus, where she is studying for a certificate of completion in Vocational Nursing.

“I knew that I wanted to do something more for patients, just as my husband (Jesus Herrera) does as an RN at Valley Baptist Medical Center,” Arellano said. “The feedback I’ve heard from him as an alumnus of the same program and others about the program’s engagement has been positive, so I enrolled.”

The Vocational Nursing students start out learning how to treat patients with a lifelike patient simulator called a manikin.

“The instructors give us advice such as to remember to treat a medical manikin as your actual patient,” Arellano said. “A full head-to-toe assessment has been my favorite training, which includes internal and external body surfaces.”

Arellano said her instructors bring out the best in their students.

“They are passionate and skilled professionals who want each of their students to succeed,” she said. “That has a positive impact on me and my fellow students.”

Arellano looks forward to putting her skills to work.

“This educational opportunity at TSTC has changed my life,” she said. “That, and my husband’s positive mindset, has inspired me to make a difference in our local community.”

Heather Sauceda, TSTC’s Vocational Nursing program director in Harlingen, said Arellano’s commitment to patient care is evident.

“Martha is progressing in her hands-on applied skills and clinical courses to ensure she is prepared to take care of real patients starting next week,” she said. “Her previous experience as a dental assistant has given her an advantage of being comfortable communicating with patients and confidence in her abilities.

In Texas, licensed vocational nurses can earn an average annual salary of $50,910, according to onetonline.org, which forecast the number of such positions to grow in the state by 17% from 2020 and 2030.

TSTC offers a Vocational Nursing certificate of completion at its Breckenridge, Harlingen and Sweetwater campuses. An Associate of Applied Science degree in Nursing is offered at its Harlingen and Sweetwater campuses.

The deadline to apply for the Vocational Nursing program for spring 2024 is Friday, Oct. 27, at 5 p.m. For more information, visit tstc.edu/programs/vocational-nursing/.

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