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The Rio Grande Valley’s First Registered Nurse Apprenticeship Program Approved for RGV College

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Meet the distinguished professionals shaping the future of healthcare and education in Texas: Beverly Skloss, a Nursing Consultant for Education at the Texas Board of Nursing; Maritza R. Padilla, Chief of Staff and EVP at DHR Health; Elizabeth Díaz, Director of Employee Education, DHR Health; Nori A. Zapata, VP of Nursing Education and Professional Development, DHR Health; Dr. Annabelle Palomo, President and CEO of RGV College; Desi Holmes, Apprenticeship Director at the Texas Workforce Commission; Joel Mario Ramos, MSN-ED, RN, CGRN, Director of Nursing - ADN Program, RGV College; Maria E. Williams, BSN, RN, Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction, RGV College; and Julian Alvarez III, Executive Vice President of Community Relationship at Lone Star National Bank. Courtesy photo
Meet the distinguished professionals shaping the future of healthcare and education in Texas: Beverly Skloss, a Nursing Consultant for Education at the Texas Board of Nursing; Maritza R. Padilla, Chief of Staff and EVP at DHR Health; Elizabeth Díaz, Director of Employee Education, DHR Health; Nori A. Zapata, VP of Nursing Education and Professional Development, DHR Health; Dr. Annabelle Palomo, President and CEO of RGV College; Desi Holmes, Apprenticeship Director at the Texas Workforce Commission; Joel Mario Ramos, MSN-ED, RN, CGRN, Director of Nursing – ADN Program, RGV College; Maria E. Williams, BSN, RN, Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction, RGV College; and Julian Alvarez III, Executive Vice President of Community Relationship at Lone Star National Bank. Courtesy photo
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Pharr, Texas—On Thursday, April 18, 2024, the Texas Board of Nursing unanimously approved a groundbreaking initiative by Rio Grande Valley College (RGVC), marking the launch of the first-of-its-kind Registered Nurse Apprenticeship Track in the Rio Grande Valley. This innovative track helps to alleviate the critical shortage of Registered Nurses in the region and extends its impact across Texas and the nation.

RGVC’s Registered Nurse Apprenticeship Track is a strategic response to the urgent need for skilled nursing professionals. Developed in partnership with the DHR Health Registered Nurse Apprenticeship Program, approved by the Department of Labor (DOL), this initiative demonstrates RGVC’s commitment to advancing healthcare education and serving the community in Pharr, Texas, and the South Texas region.

The apprenticeship program seamlessly integrates with RGVC’s existing Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) program, offering students tailored clinical experiences alongside their academic education. Apprentices will dedicate an additional 24 hours per week to hands-on clinical work, enabling them to fulfill their on-the-job learning requirements under the direct supervision of experienced nurse preceptors. This supervision is facilitated through a robust partnership with DHR Health.

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The program has been awarded a $1M grant by the Texas Workforce Commission to financially support the apprentices during their training. This initiative aims to increase the number of qualified healthcare professionals and make educational advancement accessible to aspiring nurses through federal and state funding opportunities.

With plans to launch the program by May 2024, the apprenticeship program is ready to address the region’s healthcare needs. Eligible applicants can apply at dhrhealth.com/careers.

The proposal was thoroughly examined and discussed during the Texas Board of Nursing meeting and received strong endorsements. It was praised for its potential to significantly transform nursing education and address the challenges of nurse burnout, stress, and early career exits. “I’m privileged to witness this milestone—a testament to our commitment to excellence. Our community’s first nursing apprenticeship program, second statewide, offers hope for healthcare’s future. Our exceptional RGV College team’s dedication shapes an elevated educational experience. Together, we’re building a legacy of innovation and empowerment.” – Dr. Annabelle Palomo, CEO of RGV College

This apprenticeship program represents an all-inclusive and compassionate approach to nursing education, prioritizing retention, confidence-building, professional growth, and nurturing a culture of empathy. Dr. Manish Singh, CEO of DHR Health, said, “We are committed to serving our community, which drives us to seek innovative solutions. The demand for nurses is high, and this collaboration provides a unique opportunity for aspiring nurses to gain valuable hands-on experience alongside their education. Together, we are fostering workforce development and paving the way for a new generation of healthcare professionals.”

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The approval by the Texas Board of Nursing is a significant step forward in enhancing the quality and accessibility of nursing education in Texas. RGVC and DHR Health are honored to lead this initiative, which could be a model for similar programs nationwide.

The Texas Board of Nursing approved the Rio Grande Valley College (RGVC) proposal under Agenda Item 3.2.17.

Participants in the Proposal Presentation: Dr. Annabelle Palomo, CEO/President, RGV College, Beverly Skloss, MSN, RN, Nursing Consultant for Education, Texas Board of Nursing Maritza R. Padilla, MHA, BSN, RN, CRRN EVP, Chief of Staff, DHR Health Elizabeth Díaz, MPH, Director of Employee Education, DHR Health, Nori A. Zapata, MSN, RN, VP of Nursing Education and Professional Development, DHR Health Desi Holmes, Apprenticeship Director, Texas Workforce Commission, Joel Mario Ramos, MSN-ED, RN, CGRN, Director of Nursing – ADN Program, RGV College Maria E. Williams, BSN, RN, Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction, RGV College Julian Alvarez III, Executive Vice President of Community Relationship, Lone Star National Bank Each representative played a crucial role in detailing and endorsing the initiative aimed at establishing an apprenticeship track within the Associate Degree Nursing Education Program.

For further information and ongoing updates, please visit www.rgvcollege.edu.

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