Many people change careers after crises in life. Not only did Jermeece Augustine and Josue Reyes face similar crises, but they have followed similar education and career paths.
Augustine and Reyes chose to switch to nursing after watching compassionate nurses care for family members in ICU. After completing associate degree nursing programs at San Jacinto College, they both began working as medical surgical nurses.
In fall 2020, they mirrored again, joining San Jac's inaugural Bachelor of Science in Nursing cohort to take their nursing skills to the next level.
"The work we're doing [in school] feels very relevant to the nursing we're doing now," Augustine said. "It's things I'm dealing with on my job in real time and ways that we can make it better."
As their summer 2021 graduation nears, Augustine, Reyes, and 21 other BSN students are mastering complex concepts now to meet evolving health care tomorrow.
'Let me get in on this'
Augustine graduated from San Jac in 2018. After working a few years, she applied for several BSN programs, knowing her professional growth depended on more education.
"When I started in nursing, my job opportunities were limited," she said. "Definitely hospitals are leaning toward nurses with higher education — four-year degrees."
After getting stalled in the admissions process at other schools, she spotted a San Jac BSN billboard while driving. That was her "Let me get in on this!" moment.
Reyes, a 2020 San Jac graduate, looked forward to studying under his former ADN instructor Dr. Edward Nichols, now the BSN professor.
"I knew this program would exceed my expectations when I read who was going to be my professor," he said. "[Dr. Nichols] expands complex topics in such a way to make us understand and help us become better nurses."
Thanks to the program's clear expectations and manageable deadlines, students can juggle assignments along with work and home life.
"With everything that's happened with COVID, the recent snowstorm, all the challenges throughout the program, [Dr. Nichols] has been so supportive and understanding," Augustine said.
While she and Reyes share many things in common, their paths diverge at post-graduation goals.
Augustine plans to advance in her career at CHI St. Luke's Patients Medical Center, leading others and promoting positive changes in nursing. Reyes, on the other hand, is toying with becoming a flight nurse in the next five years.
Leadership training ground
This inaugural cohort has set the bar high for future ones. Students have progressed from simple to complex concepts and projects, eager to apply their learning to the evolving patient care environment.
"Their assignments are robust and well-thought-out and demonstrate the growth in their skills and mindset as future leaders in nursing," Nichols said.
Throughout the program, the BSN team has welcomed student feedback on the courses, assignments, and exams. Responses have been thumbs-up.
"The program offers excellent opportunities to expand your knowledge as a nurse — not to mention the tuition is cheaper than going to a university," said Reyes, who feels a community college program gives more nurses the chance to advance professionally.
Augustine has encouraged coworkers to apply, not only because of low cost but because of small class sizes and rigor — leadership training ground.
"The program is not a walk in the park," she said. "Upper-level courses require outside-the-box thinking, problem solving, and learning how to communicate with others. I didn't realize how much of a leader I could be."
Convenient, affordable degree
Today, more health care employers seek BSN-prepared nurses who have the skills to keep pace with evolving health care. In turn, BSN nurses have more career options — from direct patient care, education, and management to public health nursing and inpatient/outpatient services.
San Jac's BSN program ensures nurses can get the degree quickly, conveniently, and affordably.
The three-semester, 31-credit-hour program at the Central Campus includes both face-to-face and online courses in an eight-week format. [Update: The BSN program is fully online as of fall 2023.] Total tuition is approximately $2,400 for in-district students and $4,200 for out-of-district.
Courses focus on health care trends, community health nursing, public/global health policy, legal/ethical considerations, leadership, and other advanced topics. Nichols calls it a groundbreaking time for San Jac.
"We have continued to meet the demands of the health care environment," he said. "The program is evidence of the commitment to the communities we serve and our emphasis on excellence in professional nursing education."
Launched in fall 2020, San Jac's BSN program is a candidate for initial accreditation by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.
Have completed an accredited associate degree in nursing program and 45 credit hours of general education courses
Be working nurses with unencumbered Texas RN licenses
Have completed or be completing 10 credit hours of prerequisites while applying