UPDATE: South Texas College hopes to add bachelor’s degree in nursing

McALLEN — South Texas College hopes to soon offer a bachelor’s degree in nursing to expand on its growing roster of four-year degree programs.

The college currently offers four bachelor’s degrees since the implementation of its first bachelor-level program, a technology management degree in 2005, according to a news release. Practicality, relevance and marketability to the modern workforce are some of the factors for consideration for a new program, said Ali Esmaeili, dean for math, science and bachelor programs.

Project manager Nancy Gonzalez has worked with the bachelor programs at STC for about 13 years, she said. The majority of students currently taking nursing courses have expressed interested in furthering their education. An associate degree in nursing is currently offered, but the Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program is currently pending and under review by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and the Texas Board of Nursing, she said.

“There is still a high demand of nurses within our community, and unfortunately it’s not being met,” Gonzalez said.

The program would be a hybrid, with students attending classes along with getting real-world experience in medical settings, she said.

STC has graduated over 1,000 students with a bachelor’s degree since its first implementation. As students graduate with degrees, they will obtain higher paying jobs and help instill economic growth in the area, Esmaeili said.

Increasing their wages after graduation is an important goal, he added.

“We are trying to transform this student to (the) next level,” Esmaeili said.

Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board designated STC as one of three community colleges authorized to offer bachelor’s degrees, he said.

“Our success really generated a lot of momentum among the legislators and Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board,” Esmaeili said.

STC accommodates non-traditional students that may lack a path by offering credit hours that are not wasted in transfers, he said.

The college communicates with local institutions, such as the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, to ensure there is no overlap in what they offer, Esmaeili said. STC offers bachelor degrees that are “applied,” which differs from the many student degree plans from UTRGV.

By the time a student graduates, they should be ready to take on the work duties with professional experience and adequate preparation, Esmaeili said.

It takes about a year to create an encompassing program, Esmaeili said. A program goes through several phases, from departments, advisory committees and other various counsels who review it during the process.

Public safety and homeland security are considerations for future bachelor degrees, Esmaeili said.

“We have proven to our community, to state legislators that this is the right way to transform the life of our community,” Esmaeili said. “What we do is aligned with what the state of Texas is trying to do.”

Editor’s note: This story was updated to clarify that the Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program is currently pending and under review.