Nine Set to Graduate from THR’s Employee-to-Nurse Program

ARLINGTON, Texas – Nine students, all either current or potential employees of Texas Health Resources, make up the inaugural graduating class in THR's employee-to-nurse collaboration with El Centro College. The new graduate nurses took advantage of an unusual program begun by THR and El Centro that allows employees to attend classes at their workplace via distance learning and taught by adjunct faculty of El Centro, who also are THR employees.

The students will be honored by THR Friday (April 29) at City Place in Dallas. They will formally graduate at 3 p.m. Sunday at Moody Coliseum on the SMU campus as part of the 2005 El Centro nursing class. After graduation, the students will be eligible to sit for the national licensure exam, which, if passed, certifies the graduate nurses as registered nurses.
“This is a milestone for Texas Health Resources and for our efforts to meet our staffing challenges,” said Michael Evans, vice president for learning at THR. “To see our employees and those we hope will become employees within our system take the next step in their careers is a tremendous thing in its own right. But, to know that we may be adding nine new registered nurses into North Texas health care is particularly gratifying.”

The El Centro College-Texas Health Resources Associate Degree in Nursing Partnership Program, which began in 2003, is open to any THR employee, spouse or dependent. THR covers the cost of all tuition and books, which amounts to about $12,000 per graduate. Some national estimates place the cost of nurse recruitment and orientation at upwards of $50,000.

According to the Texas Nurses Association, Texas has about 50,000 fewer nurses than the national average and ranks among the bottom five states in the number of registered nurses per patient.

“Helping grow our own nurses is an effective way to meet our current and future staffing needs,” said Mark Morales, vice president for people and culture at THR. “It makes sense any way you look at it.”

The first graduates of the program include Tim Cleveland, an employee at Presbyterian Hospital of Plano for four years; Gayla Cross, a three-year Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas employee; Olivia Sanders, currently employed at both PHD and Presbyterian Hospital of Allen; Rosalie Watters, an employee of Harris Methodist Fort Worth Hospital for two years; and Jamie Sue Waugh, a three-year Harris Methodist Fort Worth employee. They all plan to continue their careers within the THR system. Graduates Angela Jackson, Sheree Kehm, Jennie Alecia Lucky and Ryan Schirato expect to fill positions at THR hospitals after graduation.

About Texas Health Resources
Texas Health Resources is one of the largest faith-based, nonprofit health care delivery systems in the United States. The 13-hospital system is the largest in North Texas in terms of patients served and includes the Harris Methodist, Presbyterian and Arlington Memorial hospitals.