The University of Houston-Victoria nursing program recently was recognized as one of the best nursing programs in Texas by a national nursing website.

Nursing Schools Almanac, an online guide to nursing schools in the U.S., named the university’s Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing program as one of the state’s top 75 nursing programs for 2020.

“We are excited to be included in this list of top nursing programs,” said Tara Vaughn, UHV interim director of the nursing program. “We worked hard to develop a curriculum that is innovative and student-centered. We have received good feedback from our students and alumni, so to be on this list solidifies that we are on the right track.”

For the 2020 rankings, the Nursing Schools Almanac research team collected data from 3,000 nursing schools and programs throughout the country. The team evaluated each program on factors including the institution’s academic prestige and perceived value, and the breadth and depth of nursing programs offered.

UHV’s online nursing program is for nurses who already have an associate degree in nursing or a registered nurse diploma. The program admits students five times each academic year and offers up to 12 courses a semester. Students can enroll full-time or part-time and complete the program in two years, depending on the student’s schedule, Vaughn said.

For most of this year, students in the program have juggled being a student while also working during a pandemic. UHV faculty members have added assignments, such as case studies about COVID-19, to the curriculum so that assignments are applicable to the nurses’ current workplace situations.

“Some of our students are working long hours every week because of the demands of the pandemic,” Vaughn said. “There are a lot of late-night phone calls, text messages and emails between faculty and students so that we can make adjustments with schedules and assignments. We do what we need to do so that our students are successful.”

Keeping the focus on students is one of the reasons the program has been successful, Vaughn said. Additionally, the faculty members work with students who live in rural areas and students often have scholarship opportunities. The program has an agreement with Victoria College’s nursing program to create a smooth transition between the two programs.

For Barbara Aguilar, the program was helpful and convenient. Aguilar is originally from Victoria and lives in Corpus Christi. She completed the program in July and attended a virtual pinning ceremony on Dec. 11.

Aguilar was a part-time student in the program for two years and juggled classwork with working full time and a family. What Aguilar learned most from the program is how to do evidence-based research, and she uses that skill daily in her job as a director of quality and infection control at South Texas Surgical Hospital.

She also appreciated how flexible and understanding the faculty members were when she was ill with COVID-19 a few weeks before the program concluded and while she was taking a capstone course with a heavy workload.

“I was out of commission for about 10 days, and I was able to get an extension to make sure I was able to recover properly and still get my work done,” Aguilar said. “In the end, I was able to finish strong.”

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