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Bachelor of Nursing Program Welcomes Students with Orientation

BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – JULY 15, 2014 – Julio Alejandro Garcia, 24, of Brownsville had a curiosity about the work that nurses did when he was a student at Resaca Middle School in Los Fresnos. He would often ask questions about their work and was impressed with their kindness.
“Soon I would come to my college years and I just knew I wanted to be a nurse,” said Garcia, a 2007 graduate of Los Fresnos High School and a junior at The University of Texas at Brownsville. “My family always wanted me to be a nurse as well and I owe them so much, especially my mother Maria E. Garcia. She would always tend to be harder on me, and it really paid off in the end. Because of her and my friends and the nurses I’ve met in my life, I was able to strive for the BSN program. I want to be a great nurse, friend and an even better son.”

Nursing students try on scrubs during the Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program Orientation on Wednesday, Jul. 9, 2014 at LHSB 1.104.Nursing students try on scrubs during the Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program Orientation on Wednesday, Jul. 9, 2014 at LHSB 1.104.

Garcia was one of 60 UTB students who attended the College of Nursing’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program Orientation on Wednesday, July 9 at the Life and Health Sciences Building. The day-long gathering included information about clinical nursing opportunities, nursing curricula, academic advising and other topics.  The orientation was also an opportunity for nursing students to get acquainted with each other and get sized for their uniforms.

According to the most recent Texas Center for Nursing Workforce Studies’ report “Nursing Workforce in Texas – 2011: Demographics and Trends:

  • The state had 184,467 active registered nurses with 87.4 percent employed full-time. Primarily in hospitals.
  • In 2011, more than 47 percent of the state’s nurses held an associate degree while 38.8 percent of workers held a bachelor’s degree in nursing.

The new degree program will help meet a recommendation backed by the Committee on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Initiative on the Future of Nursing and the Institute of Medicine to have 80 percent of the nation’s nurses hold at least a bachelor’s degree by 2020.

“The day went well,” said Dr. Anne R. Rentfro, Professor and Interim Associate Dean in the College of Nursing. “I am pleased with how the faculty had everything organized. Students were introduced to important policies and professional rules and regulations but also had time to meet nursing leaders from agencies where we may have clinical placements.”

Early in the day the nursing students were asked to introduce themselves and tell a little about why they chose nursing as a profession.

Garcia said he was interested in working with patients’ rehabilitation and therapy needs and traveling worldwide to volunteer his medical skills.

Newly accepted nursing students participate in  a Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program Orientation on Wednesday, July 09, 2014 at LHSB.Newly accepted nursing students participate in a Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program Orientation on Wednesday, July 09, 2014 at LHSB.

“I can tell you I feel so grateful to the professors, staff and alumni that have made this possible for us,” he said. “I am grateful I was given such a great task to achieve and overcome so that I may finally reach my dream of traveling the world helping people from all ethnicities, and especially the poor who have a hard time finding medical care because of their economic situations.”

Edna Duran, 21, a junior from Brownsville and a graduate of Livingway Christian School, is interested in one day becoming a nurse practitioner and working in the pediatric oncology field.

“I have been in the hospital a few times, and I realize how important a nurse can be in a patient’s life,” she said. “Nurses could be the only people that patient might have in their life at the moment. A nurse can make someone’s visit at the hospital a pleasant one and I believe they make a difference.”

Ileana Espinosa, 27, a junior from Brownsville and a graduate of Instituto CIMA in Matamoros, Mexico, said she chose to pursue the new nursing degree because of her passion for helping those who need care.

“This year my grandma was diagnosed with ovarian cancer,” said Espinosa. “I saw the disease progression and how my grandma’s life was diminished. This helped me realize that nursing is holistic, which is defined as being concerned with the whole being including physical, spiritual and environmental factors that contribute to the whole. It means looking at more than just one part of something.”

Dr. Kristina Stillsmoking, Director of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Smart Hospital in Harlingen at the Regional Academic Health Center which is a satellite of The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, offered the 15,000-square-foot facility for nursing students and faculty members to use. She spoke to the bachelor’s degree in nursing students on Tuesday, July 15.

“Many of our faculty were at the ground level at the conception and launch of this wonderful virtual teaching center,” said Sharon Helsley-McGinely, Lecturer in the College of Nursing. “We look forward to accessing and using this as a valuable tool alternative to support learning clinical aspects of nursing.”

Students took the pre-nursing courses Pathophysiology, Fundamentals of Nursing and Pharmacotherapeutics during the 2013-2014 academic year at the College of Nursing. Upon completion of the courses, students applied to be a member of the first cohort to begin taking classes for the bachelor’s degree in nursing starting in fall 2014. The first degree cohort is scheduled to graduate in spring 2016 with 120 semester credit hours.

The Texas Board of Nursing approved the university’s new degree in July 2012. 
The new degree does not conflict with the Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing Online Program for Registered Nurses which have a separate course plan. This degree and the master’s degree in nursing are accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission.

For more information about the College of Nursing contact Academic Liaison Lourdes Requena at 956-882-5070 or

Currently enrolled or future university students can visit the Enrollment Center @ The Tower at Main to register for classes, talk to an academic advisor, make payments and do other tasks for the fall semester. The fall semester registration deadline is Tuesday, Aug. 12. The payment deadline is Thursday, Aug. 14. The first day of class is Monday, Aug. 25. For more information call 956-882-8254.

Related article: New Nursing Degree Debuts This Fall


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