Tyler Junior College has recently added a new branch to its growing list of nursing programs in the East Texas area. TJC Rusk is a program where 20 nursing students will be given the opportunity to earn their LVN over one year.

“This is a great opportunity for students to take our program while still living close to home,” said Paul Monagan, Dean of Allied Health and Nursing for Tyler Junior College.

The program started when leaders from the City of Rusk, Rusk State Hospital and TJC got together and formed a partnership to open the doors to an additional nursing school located in the Rusk State Hospital. The facility was formerly used by Stephen F. Austin State University as an RN program, but since SFA couldn’t get enough students to fill the program, the Rusk Economic Development Corporation (REDCO) approached TJC with the idea of filling the need.

“You hope and wish that these opportunities come around and then poof, they’re here,” said Monagan.

“We are always looking. If there’s ever an opportunity for a partnership, we are always interested.”

“We are really excited about this move,” said Ted Debbs, superintendent of Rusk State Hospital. “We had a demand that needed to be met, and TJC has done well to help meet that demand.”

Because Rusk needs to fill openings for nurses, not only at the state hospital but also for a growing job market for LVNs, the campus comes to no cost to TJC. Rusk State Hospital owns the facility being used by the school, which means free maintenance and use of utilities, parking and security.

With the demand for nurses locally, after graduating from the program students shouldn’t have much trouble finding an LVN position.

“It really helps the community to know that jobs are being filled, taxpayers are getting jobs in the community, and the employers there are getting home grown workers that are probably going to put their heart and soul into it because they want to be here,” said Debbs.

With the addition of the TJC Rusk campus, students living south of Tyler now have the opportunity to attend classes without driving the distance to TJC every day, which takes a load off of the cost and time making lengthy trips back and forth to campus. Students are not limited to only the Rusk campus, with TJC Jacksonville offering 20 spots for LVN’s and TJC Lindale offering 20 spots for LVN’s.

Though the locations are different, each program offered at TJC Rusk, Jacksonville and Lindale is basically the same. The most qualified students are chosen for the 20 seats open to each of the programs, and each school offers the same one-year LVN program, with Jacksonville being the only that offers a transitional RN program.

Prerequisites are not yet available through the Rusk campus, but are offered through Jacksonville and Lindale for the convenience of not having to drive to the Tyler main campus. After successfully beginning three new LVN programs around the East Texas area, it seems Tyler Junior College will always be looking to continue to expand to meet the ever-growing demand for nurses.

According to a report from the Texas Center for Nursing Workforce Studies, there is projected to be a need for 71,000 nurses by 2020. Although no new projects have been announced, TJC has contributed towards providing a constant supply of nurses for the growing demand, and will keep looking for partnerships to continue to do so.

“You really don’t want someone who just walked in off the street looking after you after an accident,” said Monagan. “You want to wake up to a competent professional, someone who knows what they’re doing and someone you can trust. That’s what we are accomplishing here.”

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