Central Texas College to graduate first cohort of nurses from expedited track

Central Texas College will graduate 11 vocational nurses from a new nine-month track during pinning ceremonies May 9 and Commencement on May 10.

The new certificate program, which is the most accelerated in Texas, prepares future nurses using condensed courses from August-May instead of the typical 12 months, said Lamen Ramirez, college vocational nursing program coordinator.

Nurses who graduate the program will be licensed to practice as LVNs after passing the state board exam. Starting pay is about $50,000, Ramirez said.

“There was already a nursing shortage before COVID, and then enrollment numbers dropped and many nurses left the field,” Ramirez said. “The nine-month option just makes sense for working people or our military.”

Graduate Johnnie Gonzalez said the schedule caters to “busy, working families.”

“I work part-time and I have a family,” Gonzalez said. “I believe this program is set up to provide the convenience to fulfill personal responsibilities outside the program.”

Gonzalez said she sees benefit in the expedient coursework.

“The pace of instruction combined with active learning is vigorous and has its advantages,” Gonzales said. “We have discussions about pathophysiology as a class and engage with one another to gain insight and valuable information about the disease processes. We utilize critical thinking skills to come up with specific interventions and outcomes. 

“This has given me a better understanding of the topics because this way of learning keeps us engaged while interacting with one another in the process,” she added.

Enrollment for the next cohort of 20 students is underway through May 15. For more information, applicants should call 254-526-1890 or email dhs@ctcd.edu.

The Central Texas College Department of Health Sciences also offers an associate degree in nursing, which is completed in two years. 

“Since 1965, the nursing programs at CTC have allowed nursing students to enter the workforce with critical skills, didactic knowledge, and quality clinical experiences,” said Dr. Susan Ramnarine-Singh, director of Nursing Programs for the Department of Health Sciences. “We are excited to offer the modification to the VN program which allows for a 9-month completion as this better addresses the acute nursing shortage in Texas.”

Gonzalez said she feels well-prepared.

“The instructors are available whenever we have questions,” she said. “I notice the compassion and determination they have to get our cohort to the finish line.

“I believe we will become the best version of ourselves as future nurses,” she added.

Vocational nursing student Johnnie M. Gonzalez (above, right) practiced her skills in a Central Texas College classroom recently. Gonzalez is one of 11 vocational nursing students completing the expedited, nine-month nursing program on May 10.