An interview with Alicia Vaca, who graduated from a nursing program at MedVance Institute in Houston, Texas.

What program did you participate in?

The Bachelor’s degree in Nursing, specializing in emergency medicine.

What is your current career?

I am an RN in an ICU for Adult Care.

What’s a typical day in your career?

Normally I work a 12-hour shift in the Intensive Care Unit. I am also on the on the 24 hour on call list as a flight nurse. I range from having a patient load of 3-5 at any particular time. My duties include taking vitals, giving meds, and more.  I have been on two emergency flights in the last year. Now I am also on the list as a traveling nurse. That was my dream since I first heard about those kinds of opportunities in high school.

How did your training help you get into this career?

Well, I have always known that I wanted to go into nursing, but it wasn’t until my experience at college and living away from home that I saw how great it was to see new places and work at different types of medical institutes and hospitals. That is when I really knew I wanted to get into flight and traveling nursing. Any opportunity to save someone’s life or make a difference is worth the hard work it takes to get there.  What I learned at Medvance will stay with me forever, as well as the relationships and friendships I built. Obviously you cannot become a nurse without going to nursing school, and I wouldn’t be where I am in my career if it had not been for this school.

How would things be different for you if you hadn’t received this training?

Without going through a proper nursing program I wouldn’t be able to work as a registered nurse, and most definitely wouldn’t be able to work on medical flights. Employers prefer a traveling nurse to be either an RN or LPN. I worked in a nursing home facility before college, and I would still be there today, or perhaps even have given up on the medical career had it not been for this education.

Were you happy with the training that you received?

Yes. I was really timid going to a college so far from home. However, after learning the lay of the land, meeting new people, as well as dorm mates and classmates, things started going very well.  Houston was very welcoming and the training I received was fantastic. Not only did I get the education I needed, but I also learned how to apply it to my daily life, in and out of the workplace.

How long was the program?

I was there for roughly a year and a half. I had completed my pre-requisites while still in high school allowing me to jump right into the nursing program. I believe there are different programs and amounts of classroom time for everyone.

What were your favorite classes and why were they a favorite?

Clinicals were my favorite; you can learn only so much from a textbook. It was great hands on work with added pressure. That is how I learned, and it stuck!

What did you take from the program that you use in your everyday job tasks?

I don’t think that there is anything in my everyday life that I don’t use. As an RN you are responsible for someone’s mother, father, best friend, or grandparent. These are not just patients these are people with lives. You have to accept everyday challenges, and that there are some things you cannot control. Everything I use in my daily work life I learned while I was in the nursing program at the MedVance Institute.

Did you receive any financial aid or scholarships?  Which ones?  Were these easy to obtain?

I had a savings fund from my parents and other family members. I did not work while in Houston. All of my time and concentration went to my studies.

Did you go to school on a full-time or part-time basis?

Full time.

Were any of your classes online?

No.

Did you consider other programs?

No.  I had always known nursing was where I wanted to concentrate my time and energy. I chose a school out of state to broaden my horizons.

Why did you choose the one you did?

I have family near Houston. I also have a family member who also graduated from the MedVance Institute and I saw what they are doing with their career. I want the same for my future and myself.

What other programs did you consider?  Why did you choose the one that you did?

If I had gone with a different nursing program it would have been something local just to stay close to family and familiarity. However, you have to step out of the box every now and then.

Would you recommend this school to someone else? Why or why not?

I already have. My younger sister sees what I have done with my life, and she wants to follow in my footsteps and pursue a career in medicine. She’s not sure as to what level yet, but I do know she loved Houston when she was there visiting and she loved the campus as well.

If you could do it all over again, would you?

Yes. There is no doubt in my mind.  I have been out of school only three years, and I am already assisting in different medical cases that I could only dream of, riding on medical flights, and getting the opportunity to see the world and help people. I would say this was definitely worth the wait, and the hard work.

About how many other students were in your classes?

My graduating nursing class was rather large. There were 28 of us. I come from a smaller community so that seemed like a lot to me. Most of our community colleges back home normally hold 10-12.

For your particular program, are there any special licenses or certifications that you need to receive before getting a job?  If so, what are they and what do they entail?

Yes. There is a Board exam that I had to prepare for and pass. Without the training and classroom time I had at MedVance I would not have been prepared for that.  They sat us down and did a test prep the best that they could and it helped tremendously.

If you’re interested in a career in nursing, find a school in Texas that offers a nursing program near you.