DHR and RGV College Announce Registered Nursing Apprenticeship Program


In a groundbreaking partnership, Doctors Hospital at Renaissance (DHR) and RGV College have launched a registered nursing apprenticeship program aimed at providing hands-on training and mentorship for aspiring nurses in the Rio Grande Valley. The announcement was celebrated with a special event, featuring key speakers from both institutions, local government representatives, and community leaders.

A New Chapter in Nursing Education
Yuri Gonzalez, serving as the Master of Ceremonies, opened the event by highlighting the significance of this new program. “Today marks a new chapter in nursing education. We are not just celebrating the start of a program but the future of healthcare in our community,” Gonzalez remarked. She emphasized the support from various stakeholders and introduced the special guests, including representatives from Congresswoman Monica De La Cruz’s office, State Representative Bobby Guerra, as well as other dignitaries.

The Inception and Vision
Julian Alvarez, Senior Vice President of Lone Star National Bank and former Commissioner at the Texas Workforce Commission, shared the program’s origins. “In 2016, Governor Abbott appointed me to the Texas Workforce Commission, where I was tasked with representing labor interests. This program started back in 2019, addressing a critical need for registered nurses,” Alvarez explained. He highlighted the collaborative efforts to expedite the training process, integrating hands-on experience with classroom instruction. “With 2,000 hours of hands-on training and 144 hours of instructional time, apprentices will earn while they learn, ensuring they are well-prepared to serve our community,” he added.

A Unique Opportunity for Students
Joel Ramos, Director of the ADN Program at RGV College, spoke passionately about the program’s impact on students. “For decades, apprenticeships were limited to trades like plumbing and welding. This nursing apprenticeship program is unique because it combines mentorship and hands-on experience in various nursing fields, such as maternity, pediatrics, and mental health,” Ramos stated. He expressed his pride in the students’ dedication, noting that they are motivated by a genuine desire to improve patient care, not just financial gain.

Support and Commitment from DHR Health
Mariam Hammad, Chief Nursing Officer at DHR Health, underscored the institution’s commitment to excellence in healthcare education. “This is the first nursing apprenticeship program in the nation, and we are proud to support it. Our partnership with RGV College is designed to ensure our students receive the best training, experience, and support,” Hammad said. She emphasized the importance of mentorship and support for the apprentices, aiming to produce highly skilled and compassionate nurses.

A Holistic Approach to Healthcare
Dr. Saroja Viswamitra, Chief Medical Officer at DHR Health, praised the program’s holistic approach. “We are focused on providing a comprehensive training experience that prepares our apprentices to be future leaders in nursing. This program is about supporting our own community and ensuring that our patients receive the highest quality care,” Viswamitra commented. She expressed confidence in the program’s ability to address the healthcare needs of the Rio Grande Valley.

A Collaborative Effort
Dr. Annabelle Palomo, CEO and College President at RGV College, concluded the event with a heartfelt message. “This program took a lot of hard work and collaboration between DHR and RGV College. It’s not just about providing education but creating a community of support for our students,” Palomo said. She emphasized the importance of ongoing collaboration and the potential for future apprenticeship programs in the region.
The registered nursing apprenticeship program marks a significant milestone in healthcare education, setting a precedent for other institutions nationwide. The event concluded with a sense of pride and anticipation for the positive impact this program will have on the community and the future of nursing in the Rio Grande Valley.

Raymond Aleman