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Nursing programs still available in Victoria

By BY TOM BUTLER
March 19, 2014 at 6:03 p.m.
Updated March 18, 2014 at 10:19 p.m.

Dr. Tom Butler, president of Victoria College

Victoria College is a public, open-admission comprehensive community college. VC is a respected community partner in the Crossroads region, serving Victoria and the seven surrounding counties. The college provides associate degrees, certificates, transfer programs, workforce training and continuing education, customized training, high school programs and adult basic education. Most importantly, VC has been your hometown college since 1925.

I'd like to address the recent report of the University of Houston-Sugar Land Task Force, which proposes to transfer certain University of Houston-Victoria programs to UH in Sugar Land, that has definitely gotten the attention of the Victoria community.

Probably no aspect of the report has generated more discussion and concern than the potential changes in UHV's nursing offerings. There seems to be a lot of confusion in our community about these changes and their impact on Victoria. In particular, statements made about Victoria losing nursing programs because of these proposed changes simply are not true. To set the record straight, let's consider some facts.

Fact 1: In order to become a registered nurse, you must graduate with either an associate degree or a bachelor's degree from an accredited nursing program, and you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (also known as NCLEX). Everyone who wants to be an RN in the United States must take the NCLEX, and everyone who passes the NCLEX is a registered nurse.

Fact 2: Victoria College is the only institution in Victoria and the Crossroads that prepares students to become registered nurses. Victoria College has had a nursing school since 1959 and has been preparing future RNs since 1975. Over that period of time, VC has been responsible for preparing thousands of registered nurses for our community.

VC currently graduates between 85 and 100 associate degree nurses each year. Our students achieve a pass rate on the national nursing licensure exam between 90 and 95 percent, which is significantly higher than the state and national average and higher than many universities.

UHV does not have a program in Victoria that prepares students to become registered nurses, although it does in the Houston-metro area. The changes proposed in the UH-Sugar Land Task Force report will have no impact on VC's ability to continue to successfully meet our community's needs for registered nurses.

Fact 3: UHV's nursing programs are mostly located in Sugar Land (not Victoria). It simply cannot be said that Victoria is losing these Sugar Land-based programs, although it appears that UHV may lose control of them.

One important exception is a program that is called the UHV RN to BSN completion program, also known as a bridge program. This program is located in Victoria and primarily serves Victoria College's RNs who wish to continue their education and earn a bachelor's degree (BSN). This bridge program is a great example of a partnership between VC and UHV that is working well. It allows VC-prepared RNs to take the additional courses necessary to earn their bachelor's degree from UHV. It is not clear from the task force report what will become of the bridge program, but I see it as vital for Victoria and something worth fighting for. Typically, around 30 students choose to participate in the bridge program each year.

Sometimes our immediate reaction to a change is to focus on what we have "lost," especially when it appears to have been "taken" from us. As we consider the task force report and its implications, I suggest that we get past that immediate reaction and instead seize the opportunity that is before us.

As disconcerting as all of the proposed changes first appear, they also bring an opportunity to once again have community dialogue about what Victoria wants and needs from its university. After all, the report suggests a two- to five-year period of transition and implementation. That length of time gives Victoria the opportunity - and the time - to clearly assess our needs and shape outcomes to meet those needs. Victoria College would welcome the opportunity to be a part of such a discussion.

Dr. Tom Butler is the president of Victoria College. Readers with questions or comments can contact him at 361-485-6808 or via email at tom.butler@victoriacollege.edu.

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