Nursing program offers fresh start for grads
Elizabeth Landin, University of Texas Medical Branch patient care facilitator, was working as a bookkeeper when she decided that she was ready for a change.
“I really wanted to help people more,” Landin said. “As a bookkeeper, you sit in an office and don’t have interaction with people. I wanted something more rewarding.”
Friends suggested classes at College of the Mainland, and she came to COM for paramedic training, which she enjoyed and helped her realize that the health care field might be a good fit for her. She graduated from COM in 2000 with both an associate of arts and an associate of science and later earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from UTMB.
Today she works in the prison hospital, coordinating the work of many different people in order to ensure that the patient has the best possible care.
“You get to do a little bit of everything, overseeing their care, working with doctors and nurses,” she said. “I’m an advocate for patients. I do whatever needs to be done. I like the variety. It keeps me from becoming too settled or complacent.”
Another COM graduate, Heather Bernard, manager of the medical/surgical, neuro-pediatrics and observation unit at Mainland Medical Center, also began her career in an environment very different from a hospital.
After earning an information technology degree, she discovered she really didn’t enjoy sitting at a desk.
“I’m a people person. When you’re in IT, the computer doesn’t talk back to you,” Bernard said.
After the birth of her son, Bernard became interested in the medical field.
She came to COM and earned an associate degree in nursing and later earned a bachelor’s degree.
Now as the manager of a unit, she makes makes daily rounds and resolves any issues that arise.
“I’m still at the bedside sometimes. I look for a challenge. It’s never boring,” she said.
Interacting with patients and sharing with her fellow nurses is what she most enjoys.
“When I teach someone something and see the light bulb go off, that keeps me going,” she said.
She recently returned to COM talk to current nursing students about her experience in the field.
“COM really does prepare you,” she said.
Bernard and Landin are just two of the many students who enrolled in COM Associate Degree Nursing Program already holding a degree. Of the 50 students admitted into the spring 2013 class, 20 percent held associate degrees and 14 percent had earned bachelor’s degrees.
Gay Reeves attributes part of that trend to those looking for stable work in an uncertain economy.
“It’s a national trend,” said Reeves. “People can’t get a job, but in nursing they can get a job. There’s a bigger demand for registered nurses at the moment, but licensed vocational nursing is also a fast-growing field with long-term health care facilities hiring as Baby Boomers age.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employment Projections 2010-2020, registered nursing is predicted to be the fastest-growing occupation through 2020.
“There’s a shortage of nurses, but it’s going to get worse,” said Reeves. “This is absolutely a good time to enter the field.”
For more information about the Associate Degree Nursing or Vocational Nursing Program, visit www.com.edu/nursing.