Vocational Nursing

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – A group of more than 20 Texas State Technical College Vocational Nursing students who are scheduled to graduate next month recently had the chance to learn about potential jobs at Abilene’s Northern Oaks Living & Rehabilitation Center during an employer spotlight event hosted by TSTC’s Career Services department.

“This opportunity to meet and talk with nursing students is everything for us,” said Brian Starkey, administrator of the Ensign Group-owned facility. “We did not know that TSTC was in Sweetwater, but we are definitely going to come back and talk to the next nursing class.”

Starkey explained how the facility operates and how it has overcome the stigmas of nursing homes.

“We know there are more regulations in place for nursing homes,” he said. “We work to ensure our residents are as comfortable as possible.”

Starkey said each employee has the same goal while at work.

“Our core value is to dignify long-term care. Many of our residents have outlived their friends and family,” he said. “They just need someone to take care of them. Working in a nursing home is a true calling.”

Nurses can experience a fast-paced workday at the nursing home.

“We are a very busy and a very happening place,” Starkey said. “But we take the time to visit and make sure our residents have everything they need to be comfortable.”

Another aspect that Starkey talked about is how employees interact with the residents.

“I will admit, we do get attached to our residents,” he said. “We love them a lot.”

Starkey said the facility has openings for vocational nurses. Several students provided contact information for possible interviews following the spotlight.

“It is great to see the students interested in what we do and possibly working with us,” he said.

Northern Oaks operates with three nurses working during the day, as well as four certified nursing assistants on the floor.

“We are big on teamwork at Northern Oaks,” Starkey said.

James Bryant, a TSTC Vocational Nursing instructor, said having Northern Oaks representatives speak to the students will help them see more options in the job market.

“This gives the students the chance to see what employment is available to them after their education is complete and they begin their career,” he said. “It also shows students there are more options to them that they may not have known about.”

Ensign Group operates more than 70 facilities throughout Texas, including three in the Abilene area.

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

According to onetonline.org, LVN jobs were forecast to increase 17% in Texas between 2020 and 2030. The median annual salary for LVNs in Texas is $48,520, the website showed.

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

Registration is underway for TSTC’s spring semester. For more information, visit tstc.edu.

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