Where You Go to Nursing School Matters | University of Texas
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Where You Go to Nursing School Matters | University of Texas

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Where You Go to Nursing School Matters | University of Texas

I am frequently asked, “Does it matter where I graduate from nursing school?”  My answer is always, “Yes!”  I graduated cum laude from the University of Texas School of Nursing and it has positively affected my nursing career in profound ways.

First, I was educated by happy professors in a sunny environment perfect for learning.  Both transplanted faculty and out-of-state students embrace the local culture while living in beautiful Austin, Texas.  Moving at a southern pace, educators take their time to ensure that students fully understand the material and perform clinical tasks using best practice methods.  Because of their example, I treat my patients with southern hospitality;  I smile, take the time to understand their needs, make them comfortable, and answer any questions they may have.

In addition, the goal of the University of Texas is to create leaders in nursing who will ultimately enhance the profession.  There is a big difference between a nurse who is taught to lead and one who is taught clinical tasks.  UT graduates can do both.

Furthermore, my alma mater looks great on a resume.  It is easily recognized and many people know that its nursing program is always ranked among the top ten in the United States.  It is well known that UT is dedicated to academic research and when I graduated, the National Institutes for Health [NIH] gave the University of Texas at Austin the highest ranking for a nursing school not linked to a health science center or medical school.  Currently, UT is ranked in the top 25 of the world’s elite universities in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, which is considered to be the most authoritative assessments of universities.

It has been seven years since I graduated and the University is still supportive of me and my career.  For example, the UT School of Nursing featured my Hurricane Sandy story on their website.   A less reputable school with fewer students could not promote NurseGail.com in the same way.

When I graduated from UT, I was saddled with over $45,000 of debt and like anyone who spends that kind of money, I was a critical consumer with high expectations.  Looking back, I am proud to have made the choice to attend the University of Texas and when I make my monthly student loan payments, I do so with satisfaction.  I am hopeful for the day when I can begin to give back.

texas nursing 300x300 Where You Go to Nursing School Matters | University of Texas

 

Additional reading:

Lack of Education Among NYC Nurses

12 Comments

  • Xoxo12@gmail.com' Sarah says:

    So what do you consider a top school in TX beside UT?

    • Nurse Gail says:

      “So what do you consider a top school in TX beside UT?”

      Thanks for reading NurseGail.com and asking the question.

      U.S. News and World Report ranks nursing programs by using various criteria. My criteria are a bit different but the results are similar. If you want mobility and greater opportunity in your future nursing career, don’t choose a school based solely on geography or tuition.

      For myself, I knew that I didn’t want to be a floor nurse for the rest of my life. Going beyond bedside care requires more than an Associate’s degree. Finding a school with a strong Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing program was a priority. I also considered future networking possibilities and support that the college could continue to offer me throughout my career (I get clients for my business, Nightingale Wellness, from my association with the TexasExes and the UT website has directed readers to my blog). National name recognition is important, too (people remember me because we connect over the Longhorns).

      In addition, consider your competition for the best nursing positions. For example, I know that Hunter College has a great nursing program. But a recruiter in California will give preference to the graduate from NYU because of name recognition and, of course, the fact that NYU is known to have a great nursing school. On a national level, no one has heard of Hunter College. Like Hunter, there are lots of good schools out there but if HR hasn’t heard of them, then, what difference does it make?

      I sought out the University of Texas in Austin when I was living in Seattle, WA. Interestingly, the University of Washington usually ranks in the top 3 for nursing programs nationwide but I wanted to leave my hometown and enjoy some sunshine and warm weather. I paid for college myself and in order to save money, I worked in Austin for one year prior to the start of school which made me eligible for in-state tuition rates.

      Schools that offer the “total package” for nursing students are big state schools, Columbia, NYU, Johns Hopkins, Oregon Health and Science University, Duke, Vanderbilt, Emory, Loyola, and Brigham Young to name a few.

  • xoxo123@yahoo.com' Sarah says:

    Thanks for responding! I’m limited to nursing schools in TX but was recently accepted to Baylor. It’s a private school so the tuition is crazy high, but want to know if its worth applying to others schools instead. I don’t know if Baylor has that “national recognition” that schools like UT Austin has. I tried applying to Austin, but didn’t apply for general admission in time. So it was a no go there.. I guess I just don’t know what to do.

    • Nurse Gail says:

      Congratulations on getting into Baylor! That’s great!

      Private schools are expensive. Have you looked into attending a community college to do some prerequisites then transfer to Baylor (or another school of your choosing) when the core nursing curriculum begins? It is a great way to save a lot of money. Granted, you should do well in your courses at the community college level to be a strong transfer candidate.

      U.S. News and World Report ranked graduate Texas nursing programs in this order:
      [I know you are undergrad but both grad and undergrad programs tend to be of comparable quality.]
      University of Texas Health Science Center–Houston (#21)
      University of Texas in Austin (#32) [You know I personally don’t agree with this at all!]
      University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio (#36)
      Baylor in Dallas (#64)
      Texas Tech University Health Science Center in Lubbock (#64)
      Texas Women’s University in Denton (#64)
      University of Texas in Arlington (#64)
      University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio (#64)

      My ranking system is different than U.S. News and World Report’s for a few reasons. One reason is national name recognition. Baylor ranks higher than the University of the Incarnate Word on that front.

      Another reason is the fun factor. Come on, it’s college and when you aren’t studying, you should be in a place with great people making great memories. This is another reason that I favor UT–Austin is amazing. How are you feeling about Waco?

      Another consideration for me involves the connections you’ll make while in school. For example, I chose NYU for grad school because of the respected professors and clinical opportunities. For you, Baylor has some interesting opportunities with study abroad/missions. Baylor medical school is located in Houston so you won’t work with any of the single med students (in case you wanted to minor in pre-wed).

      Also, where do you want to live after you graduate? Statistics show that most graduates remain in the city where they graduated from. Something to consider.

      When I started drafting this response to you, I emailed some friends around the country and unfortunately, they haven’t heard of Baylor. I was surprised my friend who did undergrad pre-med (UCLA) and is a VP in the medical device industry isn’t familiar. She works all over the country, too.

      I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any further questions and what you decide to do. I’ll be thinking about you!

      • Nurse Gail says:

        I have an update. My female friend who was pre-med and now a nutritionist with a thriving business in NYC has not heard of Baylor. My female friend who is an adjunct professor in psychology at NYU has not heard of Baylor. My male friend in Seattle who is a computer scientist has heard of Baylor (probably because he was a college football star and follows college football). Hope this helps.

        • Nurse Gail,

          I am really enjoying your blog! I love how you used social media to contact your friends to ask if they had heard of Baylor and they had not! This is mind blowing to me.

          I guess it really is a regional thing, because Baylor University is very popular here in the South. Basically, it is know for anything medical related. So popular in fact that before the recession that many hospitals in the south had adopted their alternative staffing program for nurses called the Baylor Plan. A nurse would work two twelve hour shifts on the weekend and get paid for 32 hrs. This staffing model has somewhat fallen out of favor after the recession like many other perks and programs for nurses.

          So, in NYC do they have a similar staffing model? If so what do they call it?

          • Nurse Gail says:

            Erica, you are so great. Thanks for reading my blog.
            I was also surprised that my professional friends hadn’t heard of Baylor and some of them are in the medical field!
            I wish NYC utilized the ‘Baylor Plan’ because it sounds fantastic!
            Staffing models in NYC? Ha!
            NYC is not like any other place–the hospital culture here is unreal.
            The only civilized staffing that I have experienced in NYC has been in the PACU of NYU HJD where they use the Aspen model. Also the endo recovery unit at Mt. Sinai did a good job (usually 3 patients per nurse). But otherwise it is an acute primary nursing free for all. There also is no Safe Harbor in New York like there is in Texas.

            For anyone who doesn’t know, Erica is the force behind SelfEmployedNurse.com. Check it out!

  • Winwen_winnie@hotmail.com' Linda says:

    Hi Nurse Gail,

    I am planning to transfer to either TWU or UT Health at Houston. Which one do you recommend more?

    Thank you

    • Nurse Gail says:

      Thanks for reading and for your question. I love community college and I think it is a great way to save some money before transferring to a 4-year school.

      As for TWU vs. UT Health, both are going to be the same for recruiters outside of Texas (neither are well known, sorry). So the choice has to be an individual one. Pick the school that is the best fit for you: cost, location, social opportunities, student associations, study abroad programs, etc.

      As for the better program, you can get a list from each school and compare the classes required. You can also call the Student Affairs office and get their statistics for graduates who pass the NCLEX (the exam you’ll have to take in order to become an RN). Can you tour each school and see which one “feels” right? Ask to see their simulation lab in the School of Nursing. Schools that are well funded have the supplies and modern equipment to prepare you for work after graduation. Also, if you go to the school’s website you should be able to see the bios of the faculty. How many of them have published textbooks? How many are PhDs or DNPs (Doctors of Nursing)?

      This is such an exciting time in your life right now! I hope this helps.

  • Xoxo12@gmail.com' Sarah says:

    Thank you for your response!

  • myw_info@yahoo.com' Mei says:

    Hi Nurse Gail,

    I really enjoyed your article, it was very helpful! I am debating between two schools, one is USF (University of San Francisco) a private Jesuit school with a great BSN program, and Samuel Merritt University (in Oakland, CA) also for the BSN program, which I’ve heard also is a “good school”. I currently live in San Francisco.

    I am having a hard time making a decision, as USF and SMU is the same price per semester (around 20k, yikes!), but the difference is USF is 3 years versus 2 years in SMU, both for BSN. I have a feeling that USF has a larger alumni network in San Francisco versus SMU in Oakland, but I am torn between the two. My parents says USF has more worldwide recognition than SMU.

    I am 26 going on 27 this year and feel like I’m starting nursing a little bit old, as I also know many friends who are only going on 20 years old to pursue nursing. My mom says it may be better to pursue SMU, since it’s only 2 years, and if I were younger, she would have recommended USF for me. I’m torn between the two decisions! I love USF but I want to make the right decision for myself..I’m wondering if I would have a much stronger chance getting a nursing position in San Francisco if I went to USF instead.

    Any advice is appreciated, Nurse Gail!

    • Nurse Gail says:

      I like that you are considering the alumni network as part of your decision. As far as recognition, anything with “San Francisco” in the name will let people know where you are coming from. Before you mentioned it, I had not heard of Samuel Merritt University and (like most people) I always think of Southern Methodist University in Dallas when I hear SMU. As for the length of the program, that is an interesting consideration. I can see where the shorter program would be appealing, but as an experienced nurse, I think you might be better prepared with the 3 year program. UT had one of the longest programs in the country when I attended but I cannot say enough great things about the education that I received and the fabulous time I had while in Austin. It really is a very special time (regardless of age) and I am glad I spent the extra time doing it. I was an older undergrad student and I also considered the number of graduate students on campus when I chose UT. I knew that I could blend in and maybe meet a grad student in the library who was closer to my age. Something to consider although I enjoyed my classmates immensely. Very special people enter the profession of nursing and our ages were never a factor.

      Choosing a school is personal and I can only tell you how my experiences might parallel your expectations. Did you check the NCLEX passing rates for each school? That might give you additional information. Let me know what you decide!

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