HARLINGEN – When deciding which career path to take nearly 15 years ago, Amadeo Flores III had a decision to make, and he chose to follow in the footsteps of a loved one.
Flores, who recently earned his Master of Science in nursing degree, is a 2002 graduate of the Valley Baptist School of Vocational Nursing and is now one of the school’s clinical instructors in charge of student development. He said he looked to his mother’s experience as a nurse and Valley Baptist’s reputation in the community when making the decision that ultimately shaped the future of his career.
“I have deep roots with Valley Baptist Medical Center-Harlingen,” Flores said. “My mother is a nurse in the mother/baby unit, and has been with the hospital for more than 30 years. I began here as a volunteer when I was 15 years old, and started the licensed vocational nurse program when I was 18 and graduated when I was 19. The reputation of the program and the caliber of nurses it has produced were big deciding factors in choosing what school to attend after high school graduation.”
Now through his work at the school, Flores helps potential students make similar decisions that will ultimately have a positive impact on their lives.
“Today there are more and more nursing programs, but what sets our school apart is the reputation,” he said. “Our school has a healthy mix of tradition, experience, and youthful understanding that helps usher new generations of nurses into the field. The team of instructors we have works well together and we all have a thirst for knowledge and understand the importance of not just producing licenses, but developing strong, confident, intelligent nurses.”
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 10 instructors, including lead instructor and program graduate Erin Soliz.
Soliz, a registered nurse who also holds a Bachelor of Science in nursing, said her choice to attend the Valley Baptist School of Vocational Nursing has had a profound impact on her life.
“I found my calling when I entered this program. I cannot imagine doing anything else in life,” she said. “It has opened the pathway for me to earn my BSN and to teach nursing in order to give back to the profession I love.”
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 Vocational Nursing Program has been in existence for a long period of time. Grandparents, parents, and eventually many of their children have all attended this program,” she said. “Our nursing school is one of only a few hospital-based nursing programs remaining in the state of Texas, and we are truly blessed to be in this position.
Our students have the ability to learn from a tried and true academic program with hands-on clinical performance, and also have the opportunity to be exposed to the new and innovated programs being initiated at Valley Baptist. They learn from what we believe are the best of the best.”
While some graduates can have trouble finding employment post-college depending on their field of study, students who graduate with degrees in nursing are unlikely to experience that difficulty. 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 percent 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.
For those interested in joining the school’s Class of 2022, pre-entrance testing is ongoing through Sept. 23. Baker said potential students should not delay and sign up for pre-entrance testing as soon as possible, adding that it is the first step to a rewarding career.
“The Valley Baptist Medical Center Vocational Nursing Program is a place for excellent beginnings,” she said. “Many times we have heard from others that they believe our graduates are among the very best prepared health care professionals. We welcome the opportunity to be part of someone’s success.”
For more information on the Valley Baptist School of Vocational Nursing and the ongoing testing schedule, visit https: //www.valleybaptist.net/for-medical-professionals/education-training/lvn-school-of-nursing or call (956) 389-1721.