Education crucial: Nursing candidates are in high demand amidst shortage
With the ongoing nursing shortage across the nation, it’s no surprise that this is an area of work where opportunities are only continuing to grow, and the greater Houston area is no exception.
The University of St. Thomas’s Carol and Odis Peavy School of Nursing, reopened in 2009, admitted its first students for its bachelor of science in nursing program in 2012, and just launched its doctor of nursing practice degree program this past August.
The college offers a fast-track program for going from the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) to the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). The DNP prepares nursing students to serve as leaders in the fields of health care, education, government and nonprofit organizations. Students can enroll for the DNP program with either a bachelor’s or master’s degree in nursing.
According to Poldi Tschirch, Ph.D, RN, dean and professor, University of St. Thomas Carol and Odis Peavy School of Nursing, the university’s BSN program prepares nursing students for their initial licensures. She noted that because of the demanding nature of the work, those interested in nursing should have the desire to care for others and to fulfill a valuable purpose to navigate the challenges of the field.
“In order to be a successful nurse, one should be interested in the field as a vocation rather than purely a job, given the nature of the work,” Tschirch said. “You should see nursing as a skilled profession, but also as a calling.”
According to Tschirch, the nursing field in general is seeing expanding opportunities as far as job and hiring outlook is concerned. In the greater Houston area specifically, large hospital systems are offering services in the outer suburbs and continuing to expand throughout the region as populations continue to grow.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 15 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations.
As far as compensation, salaries are highly competitive and nurses are generally well paid in Houston area, she said. Entry-level nurses may begin in the mid- to high-$40,000s up to $50,000 right out of school.
Nurse managers and those in leadership roles and advanced practices can make six-figure incomes, though this can vary between urban and rural areas. According to the BLS, the median annual wage for registered nurses was $70,000 in May 2017.
San Jacinto College also offers multiple programs for nursing and other allied health programs. Individuals needing quick entry into the workplace can enter the vocational nursing program at either the South or North locations, based on their geographical locations. The college also offers an associate degree in nursing program at both the Central and North campuses. Students are able to complete this program in 4½ semesters. The South campus also provides a transition program for paramedics and/or vocational nurses to complete an associate degree nursing program to enhance their credentials and employability.
“Students interested in pursuing entry into nursing programs are encouraged to meet with educational planners to begin mapping their pathway into nursing,” said Rhonda Bell, dean of health sciences at San Jacinto College’s Central Campus. “Courses in anatomy and physiology are foundational courses for entry into the nursing programs, and students could begin taking these courses once they have selected nursing as their career path.”
San Jacinto College’s nursing curriculum includes a combination of courses taught in classrooms, laboratory and clinical settings. Additionally, students have the opportunity to practice in the college’s Simulation Hospital to enhance assessment and clinical reasoning.
“The nursing profession is a rewarding field focused on caring for others,” Bell said. “Nursing school prepares students to care for patients and families in a dynamic health care system.”
For more information about St. Thomas’s nursing programs, visit www.stthom.edu. For San Jacinto College, visit www.sanjac.edu.