Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr.

Alice Echo-News Journal

After years of grassroots efforts on the part of local businesses, community leaders and students, the Texas Board of Nursing Examiners this week voted to approve a General Registered Nursing program for Coastal Bend College.

Dr. Thomas Baynum, president of Coastal Band College, along with Director of Nursing Education Betty Sims and Coastal Bend College Alice Director Dr. Rito Silva were on hand in Austin for the monumental decision.

“This is, I think, one of the most exciting things that could happen for Coastal Bend College. For both Beeville and Alice, I think it will have a major impact on both communities,” Baynum said. “Students will be able to get the education and training they need in their own communities without having to leave to get that education. That’s just very important.”

The general nursing program will lead to an Associates Degree in Nursing, with an opportunity for students to take the licensure exam.

The program will begin this fall with 20 students, 10 at CBC Beeville and 10 at CBC Alice. The program is designed to accommodate both new RN students and Licensed Vocations Nurses looking to “bridge” from LVN to RN certification, Silva said.

“We’ll be accepting both students who are interested in the RN at the beginning, along with those bridge students from LVN to RN. There will be testing procedures involved with the selection as well as the consideration of individual student experience,” Silva said.

The testing involved in the selection process includes the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS), which is available at all CBC campuses by appointment.

Those pursuing the straight RN will require a TEAS composite score of 68. LVNs taking the TEAS will require a composite score of 62.

Those scores allow the individual to receive an application for the program, which then goes before a selection committee, Sims said.

Based on the student’s grade point average (GPA), TEAS Score, reference feedback and experience in the field, such as CAN, EMT or others, the committee will give a score to each applicant.

Those with the highest committee scores are allowed to come into the program, on a first-come, first-served basis until the 20 spots are filled, Sims said.

Students in the program at Beeville and in Alice will do their coursework at their local campuses.

Clinical activities will also take place locally for each campus, with the exception of some specialties, such as mental health, where students may have to do clinicals in a larger health setting, since those specialties are not as available in the Alice or Beeville area, Baynum said.

Those outside clinicals will be only for a few hours, and will in many cases be the exception and not the rule. The program is designed to allow students to complete their work locally, Baynum said.

He said that based on discussions so far, the first group will more than likely be comprised of 60 percent bridge students and 40 percent new students.

The bridge students, those coming in with LVN certification, will only need one year in the RN program to be able to have a chance to sit for the national licensure exam. New students with no nursing experience will be able to sit for the Certified Nurses Aide Exam soon after beginning the program, and will be able to sit for the LVN exam after two semesters and one summer, Sims said.

“There will be a need for the bridge program for a long time. Going into the General RN program, the students can get the CAN, the LVN or all the way through for the RN,” Sims said.

“In that way, no matter what direction life takes the students, they won’t have to keep starting over. These are options available to our students, and we will keep these options open for them.”

A meeting will take place at CBC Alice on Thursday, April 24, at 2 p.m. to roll in the new program and allow students and members of the public an opportunity to learn more about the new program.

Sims will be on hand to answer questions and everyone is welcome, Silva said.