During the past years, the talk in the medical field has been the shortage of qualified nurses available to fill this high-demand career. Considering the high salaries, flexible schedule, and personal satisfaction, it is surprising to see that students are not scrambling to become nurses. The reality is that less students are graduating from institutions prepared to take on the challenge, while the brave ones (who DO choose to pursue medicine) struggle to get accepted into nursing programs across the country.

Locally, the Region One Education Service Center partnered with Doctor’s Hospital at Renaissance and South Texas College, to choose 3 valley school districts and help equip high school students for a career in nursing. In December of 2016, La Joya ISD was notified as being one of the three school districts to take advantage of Project HEAL and have since been going full force to fill up the spots.

The 3-year grant- Project HEAL (Health Education and Leadership for ALL) consists in selecting 45 La Joya ISD Juniors (15 from each comprehensive high school) from English Dual Enrollment classes, who will be part of a cohort focusing on preparing students for a career in nursing and pass the entrance exam required for admittance into a nursing program. Students will be overseen by a full-time registered nurse who will mentor the group through the remainder of high school and then beyond into college, for a 3 –year period.

Through project-based learning, and specialized classroom instruction, 20 of the 45 students will be guaranteed a spot into the nursing program, an internship with DHR, and an Associates Degree in Nursing from STC upon graduation. This advantage will surely help alleviate the continued rise in unqualified individuals and open doors in the field for many of our students.

Housed at the Academy of Health Science Professions & STEM campus, pre-requisites for those interested in applying include meeting TSI college readiness, sustain a 3.0 in all classes, and maintain a good attendance record. Once selected, the courses taken by the group will forge strong links between health-integrated Nursing study with Math and Science in order to cover critical areas of need.

For more information on Project HEAL please contact the La Joya ISD Office of College, Career, and Workforce Readiness at 323-2674.