By: Kim Espinosa
Photo by Frank Martinez
The healthcare industry is a rapidly growing field, and the Valley has seen many people turn to the medical career for a rewarding second career. With benefits ranging from the rewarding work, stable industry, salary and opportunities for professional growth, it is not surprising that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects “faster than average employment growth from 2010-2020” for vocational nurses and for many other healthcare professions.
RGV Careers – An Institute for Higher Learning trains students in eight program areas including LVN/Vocational Nursing, Nurse Aide Program, Pharmacy Technician, Medical Office, Patient Care Technician, Electrocardiogram Technician, Phlebotomy Technician and CPR certification. Dr. Annabelle P. Rodriguez, school director, remembers in 2008 when the first program for nurse aides served just ten students. The small, locally owned private institution still operates with the same passion for lifelong learning and commitment to intellectual, personal and professional growth of its students. Today enrollment has capped off at 150, though the school is considering a new facility to accommodate more students in the future. RGV Careers – An Institute for Higher Learning offers financial aid to students through Title IV funding and has received national accreditation from the Accreditation Bureau of Healthcare Education Schools.
The length of programs ranges from four weeks to 13 months and includes valuable clinical experience at local hospitals with required hours ranging from 100 to 1,000 hours. Classes are generally small, providing an ideal learning environment and unified body of students. Marketing Director Harvey Rodriguez explains that, “Dr. Rodriguez sets the tone with her commitment to learning. It starts with the staff and trickles down to affect everyone here.” “We form a partnership with our students and walk with them through the education process. Our staff knows that we all work better as a team; whether it’s checking on attendance or changing tires in the parking lot to make sure a student gets to class, the staff works tirelessly to make sure each student is successful,” Dr. Rodriguez says with a smile.
Clearly, RGV Careers – An Institute for Higher Learning prioritizes academic excellence, working under the Texas Workforce Commission and upholding its own standard for excellence. The state standard is for pass rates of 80%, but RGV Careers – An Institute for Higher Learning recently reported pass rates higher than 90% for all eight of its programs. For many students, their education at RGV Careers is the gateway into the nursing field, but in general the school educates students in very marketable areas and has been pleased to see 80% successful job placement for graduates.
Along with the academic and professional excellence that RGV Careers – An Institute for Higher Learning promotes, the school helps develop its students’ character as well. “Students take that with them into the world; it’s really not just a paycheck in this field of service,” says Dr. Rodriguez. Harvey Rodriguez describes the importance of giving back to the community as a school through food drives and volunteer work in elementary schools and nursing homes. This educational institution is focused on being a part of the community every step of the way.
As RGV Careers – An Institute for Higher Learning looks to the future, they envision expanded program areas, potentially including a Registered Nurse/ Associate Degree in Nursing program to allow students to continue their education into a higher bracket of nursing and separating RGV Careers – An Institute for Higher Learning as the only small private school in the area to offer this program. After evaluating the success of their pilot program for full-time students with solely night classes, the school plans to expand their night class offerings to better serve busy and working professionals. You can be sure that regardless of the rate of expansion, this school will remain dedicated to serving its students and the community it supports, one student at a time.
After happily recounting countless stories of successful graduates, Dr. Rodriguez describes the “certain feeling you get when you just know you’re in the right place, or on the right path. Student after student has experienced this “it” factor when walking into RGV Careers – An Institute for Higher Learning for the first time. The family environment is hard to miss.”