Workforce training alums find success at area hospital

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Johnny Sierra (left) and Linette Jackson are graduates of TSTC’s Phlebotomy Technician workforce training program. (TSTC photo.)
Johnny Sierra (left) and Linette Jackson are graduates of TSTC’s Phlebotomy Technician workforce training program. (TSTC photo.)

HARLINGEN, Texas – Linette Jackson and Johnny Sierra, both graduates of Texas State Technical College’s Phlebotomy Technician workforce training program, have experienced successful careers helping other people.

Jackson and Sierra now work at Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen. Jackson is a laboratory technician, while Sierra is a laboratory assistant. 

Additionally, Jackson is a part-time Workforce Training and Continuing Education Phlebotomy Technician instructor at TSTC’s Harlingen campus.

Jackson, a former New York resident who now resides in Harlingen, initially was interested in nursing and found the Phlebotomy Technician program to be an ideal starting point.

“My goal was to be a nurse,” she said. “I wanted to see if I would like a hospital environment, and handle blood and other elements.”

She added that once the program began, her love for biology surfaced.

“(Edna) Villarreal was my instructor,” she said. “She was very engaging with her stories. I realized I wanted to experience that as well.”

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As a student, Jackson was especially interested in her clinical experience at Valley Baptist Medical Center.

“I really enjoyed working with the doctors and nurses in the emergency room,” she said. “I was inquisitive about X-rays and what happened to the patient. I really enjoyed the training more as the weeks continued. For me, it was fulfilling to be in the room helping people.”

After Jackson completed the Phlebotomy Technician program in 2000, she accepted a job as a phlebotomist technician at the same hospital. Her career success continued there as she transitioned to a job as a laboratory technician.

“I have had this job for many years now,” she said. “I really learn something new every day. Sometimes I will receive a doctor’s request for a task I have never done. I quickly research it to find an answer and build on my knowledge.”

In her teaching role at TSTC, Jackson pays the benefits of her education and experience forward. 

“I love educating these individuals,” she said.

Sierra, of Los Fresnos, grew an interest in phlebotomy after an experience at a young age.

“I used to join my grandparents at a clinic to have their blood samples taken,” he said. “I found what the phlebotomist did really interesting. It stayed with me. As the years passed, I researched health care careers and learned TSTC had a phlebotomy program. So I enrolled.”

Jackson happened to be his instructor.

“The lectures were very interesting,” Sierra recalled. “The clinical experience was stimulating. There were opportunities to draw blood from the patients while other phlebotomists observed. I was educated about which size needle is adequate for a given situation.”

When Sierra completed the program in 2013, he accepted a job as a phlebotomist technician at Valley Baptist Medical Center.

“It was a sense of accomplishment,” he said.

After three months, Sierra went to work as a lab assistant at the hospital. His work there is fast-paced.

“You are always moving in the lab,” he said. “I really enjoy it because different samples are coming through.”

Sierra said his future plans involve doing as much as he can to help patients.

“I would like to become a laboratory technician,” he said. “If I decide to return to school, I will pursue biology. Overall, I want to improve my services and help the area community.”

TSTC’s Workforce Training and Continuing Education Phlebotomy Technician program will begin its next eight-week course on June 13, 2022.

The hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., except for holidays. Contact Rosie Martinez at 956-364-4615 or rosie.martinez@tstc.edu for more information.

To learn more about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.

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