HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Texas is faced with nearly 1,800 vocational nursing job openings this month.

In response, Rio Grande Valley training institutions are putting out calls for applicants this week to help combat the statewide nursing labor shortages.

Although some college graduates can have trouble finding employment, nursing students are less likely to face that difficulty, according to Valley Baptist Health Systems, which has hospitals in Harlingen and Brownsville.

According to statistics from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses is expected to increase by 12% by the year 2026, and the aging of the “baby boomer” population will lead to a significant need in health care services, especially in residential care facilities and home health, VBHS stated Monday.

Valley Baptist Health Systems

The Valley Baptist School of Vocational Nursing in Harlingen has two final pre-entrance testing opportunities. The tests are scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 11 and Thursday, Oct. 13. Anyone interested in taking the test can get more information or register online or can call (956) 389-1721.

The Valley Baptist School of Vocational Nursing was established in 1957, and to date the school boasts more than 1,600 graduates. The school features eight instructors and office manager Stephanie Hamby.

Albert Azua, RN, the school’s head of student retention and development, has spent nearly 30 years caring for his community.

“I began my nursing career at the Valley Baptist Medical Center-Harlingen in 1976,” he said. “During that time I have gained experience in skilled nursing and knowledge of the day-to-day of patient care and trauma experience throughout several departments of the hospital. In June of 2010, I became an instructor at the school of vocational nursing.”

Janis Baker, a registered nurse who also holds a Bachelor of Science in nursing, is the school’s director in addition to one of its instructors. Baker said the nursing school’s history and its longtime connection to Valley Baptist Health System are tangible evidence of the quality education that its students receive.

“The Valley Baptist Medical Center Vocational Nursing Program is a place for excellent beginnings,” she said. “Our graduates are among the very best prepared health care professionals, and we welcome the opportunity to be part of someone’s success.”

Texas State Technical College

Texas State Technical College in Harlingen has extended the deadline to submit applications for its vocational nursing program. The next cohort of students are scheduled to begin training in January, school officials said Monday.

Prospective students have until Nov. 1 to submit a completed application for TSTC’s 16-month vocational nursing program, which is offered at the Breckenridge, Harlingen and Sweetwater campuses.

“TSTC’s Nursing programs are working hard to ensure that we help meet the needs and demands of our community to graduate safe and competent nurses,” said Heather Sauceda TSTC’s vocational nursing program director in Harlingen.

Prospective students must meet certain requirements before applying for entry, including providing all transcripts of courses taken from other colleges that must be sent to TSTC and reviewed by the admissions department.

In addition, TSTC will conditionally accept students who are in their final semester of taking the prerequisite courses of anatomy and physiology I and II, and medical terminology. By the first day of the cohort, the student’s official transcripts must show the required grade for official acceptance.

The application process must be completed online. Prospective students may call Tanya Villarreal at (956) 364-4690 for application guidance.