The Victoria region is no stranger to the national nursing shortage that has people asking who will take care of them when their health fails. While many people want to be nurses, there simply aren’t enough people to teach them how.
“The University of Houston-Victoria will provide those teachers very soon,” said Denise Neill, interim co-director of the UHV School of Nursing. The school will begin classes for a new Master’s of Science in Nursing in mid-March that will produce the first teachers in 18 to 24 months, she said.
Some of the 12 students expected in the first class already plan to begin teaching registered nurses in the Victoria area after graduation.
Darla Guajardo and Lance Neill, both registered nurses in the new program, said that by becoming teachers, they can take a personal role in solving the critical nursing shortage pressing the health care industry.
“On the floor as a nurse, you often help one person a day,” Guajardo said. “As a teacher, you can help countless people change their lives.”
The role of a nurse educator also brings personal rewards, she said.
“You have more predictable hours, so you can spend more time with your family,” she said. While work as a registered nurse is very fulfilling, it can require some irregular hours, she noted.
“You make more money walking a floor, but we both really enjoy teaching,” Lance Neill said. “It’s just something we want to do and find deeply rewarding.”
The School of Nursing also will offer master’s programs for nursing administration and clinical nursing specialists. A degree in nursing administration allows the holder to be a unit manager or even a director of nursing at a hospital. These graduates will fill the supervisory positions needed to manage the new nurses who will fill vacant jobs.
A clinical nursing specialist usually works with patients suffering from a specific disease such as diabetes, cancer or arthritis. They often work in acute care facilities and can apply for the authority to write prescriptions.
About 30 students will participate in the first master’s degree classes.
UHV also is participating in a pilot program that will allow nurses with bachelor’s degrees and two additional master’s level classes teach nursing students in a clinical setting. The State Board of Nursing will evaluate the program in September of 2009 to decide whether to take the program statewide.
“That would go a long way to help fill the great need for nursing teachers,” Denise Neill added.
The new program brought two new faculty members to UHV, Ginger Blomstrom, Ph.D., and Jere Hammer, both assistant professors of nursing.
Blomstrom joined UHV Feb. 18, while Hammer signed on in January.
“With the addition of the master’s degree program, we can take a student all the way from an associate’s degree in nursing to a master’s degree,” Denise Neill said.
This summer, the school plans to add a program to allow someone with a bachelor’s degree in another discipline to get a bachelor’s degree in nursing in just one year as a full-time student. The program is expected to be approved by the Texas Board of Nursing in July, with classes beginning in the fall semester.
“Our role in solving the nursing shortage is a perfect example of how UHV strives to take the lead in addressing the problems that confront those we serve,” UHV President Tim Hudson said. “And in this case, as we improve the care of patients, we are literally helping to save lives.”
And the places those people helped by UHV are found is growing, he said.
“UHV is taking care of the people who live right next door at the same time we are taking care of people across the country and the world.”
Perspective students for any of the new programs should contact Student Recruitment Coordinator Tammy Whatley at (361) 570-4370 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The UHV School of Nursing gained full school status in December and is conducting a national search for its first dean.