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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 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.

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  • Avatar Sarah says:

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

    • Avatar Nurse Gail says:

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

      Thanks for reading 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.

  • Avatar 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.

    • Avatar 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!

      • Avatar 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?

          • Avatar 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 Check it out!

  • Avatar 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

    • Avatar 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.

  • Avatar Sarah says:

    Thank you for your response!

  • Avatar 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!

    • Avatar 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!

  • Avatar Nikita Patel says:

    Hi Nurse Gail,
    I was accepted to UT Austin from out of state which costs over $50k a year. Do you think that it is worth it to do my undergrad at UT Austin? I was also accepted to the University of Arizona with scholarship and the University of San Diego and I am considering both of these options. My main question is it worth it to pay over $50k to major in nursing versus $30k? Will it be more beneficial for me to attend UT Austin rather than University of Arizona or San Diego?
    Any advice is appreciated!

  • Avatar Steve Barrett says:

    Hi Gail,

    I found your site through a web search. My daughter, who will be a senior this year has decided that she wants to pursue a nursing degree. We live in NE TX and have been visiting campuses recently. So far we have visited, Texas Tech, UT Austin and Texas State. I have been surprised at the number of schools that have “off campus” nursing programs. My daughter (and I ) would like to find a university where she can spend all four years at the same school (I really want her to enjoy the college years). I was disappointed that Texas State did not have an “on campus” BSN program. Baylor was her initial first choice, be was dropped when we found out that the nursing school was in Dallas.

    She loves Texas Tech’s campus and thinks that is where she wants to be. She was not impressed with Austin. Do you have any other campus recommendations that she should consider that is relatively close to NE TX (within half a days drive)? Oklahoma may be a possibility. Suggestions are appreciated!


  • Avatar Jimmy says:

    Nurse Gail, I have attended UT nursing school at Houston. This school is ranked number one in Texas. How? I’m not sure, but I definately think you are wrong when you say it matters where you go to school. You preciously stated that UT prepares nurses to lead and to be great at clinical task. I beg to differ. Professors here do not take the time to teach the material in a way that is productive to the students. Students are not allowed to challenge questions/concepts that are wrong. Having gone through the entire program, I can say that UT nursing is a politically driven school. Students here are making the highest scores on the EXIT HESI – however, you cannot take the exit HESI unless you pass the subjective UT version of the HESI. This “statistic” is skewed. Furthermore, instructors here do not provide feedback to students at all. It seems to me and many of my cohorts that UT prides itself on the their name and history, but do not uphold its mission and values. What do you think?

    • Gail Ingram BSN RN Gail Ingram BSN RN says:

      Hi Jimmy,

      Not sure which ranking system you are looking at. US News just came out with their 2016 list of top nursing schools. They rank grad programs but this has a trickle down to the undergraduate programs as well. UT Austin is #13 while Houston is #26. There is a definite difference in the schools and the programs.

  • says:

    Thanks for reading the blog, Jimmy. I have been a nurse since 2005 and, as a travel nurse, I have met thousands of nurses who have graduated from different schools. In my experience, UT nursing graduates are far better prepared than graduates from other universities. In the comments above, I explain how the resources at UT will continue to help you throughout your career. The UT alumni network is strong and UT grads support one another throughout the country. I believe you will have to wait a while for the benefits to become apparent.

    In regard to the HESI, I do think UT gives you a leg up by providing a sham HESI to practice with. It helped me to relieve some anxiety going into the NCLEX.

    As for you challenging the professors, I’m not surprised you were not well received. For example, you came right out and told me that you think my opinion is wrong. By using this approach, you might be causing the person you are addressing to become defensive. Of course I’m not bothered, but you do set up a situation for confrontation.

    Also, I attended UT Austin and you attended UT Houston. That makes a difference is some ways. But if you think UT-Houston was bad, schools in NYC are far more challenging. New Yorkers are known to be abrasive and nurses are known to be battle axes. Put those together in one professor and you’ve got yourself a difficult situation. I think everything is relative.

    You are right with regard to university branding (name and history). Education is BIG BUSINESS and there is no doubt politics are in play on every level. But it is unclear which mission or value statement you feel was not upheld.

    A UT student wrote to me a while back and asked how to make the most out of the college experience. While it is too late for you Jimmy, it might help someone who is reading this comment. Under the Nursing Posts section (the link is at the bottom of the web page in the black footer) it’s called “Thriving as a Nurse.”

    We all have different experiences that shape our future. I wish you well in your nursing career and I hope you can put the frustration of UT-Houston behind you.

  • Avatar Elle says:

    Hi Nurse Gail,
    I know this is such an old post, but I am actually trying to apply for the Nursing program at UT Austin! However, I know how selective UT has become, and I am unsure as to whether I can get in or not. Would you happen to know the criteria that would raise my chances in getting into the program? I’m an avid volunteer, and I have some leadership positions but my GPA and test scores aren’t the best compared to some of my other peers. As for my essays, what do you think UT Nursing school is looking for exactly? I know that UT is a really great school and I would really love the be a part of it! Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated! Thank you very much!

    • Gail Ingram NP Gail Ingram NP says:

      Thank you, Elle, for reading the post. Did you have a chance to check out all the tips found in the comment section? The GPA requirement at UT is one of the highest in the country. Are you referring to your high school GPA? Because that is hard to fix. However you can get your pre-reqs at a community college and transfer to UT with a stellar college GPA. Remember, if you want to boost a community college GPA, you can retake the courses. This is time consuming and expensive but for some people it is a good alternative. Also, make sure your volunteer work is showcased in the best way possible. You want your volunteer work to show that you are already thinking like a nurse. Include tasks that involve critical thinking, decision making, and intelligence. For your essay, you want to write about concepts that extend beyond nursing school. UT isn’t just creating nursing students, UT is creating leaders. How will you be a leader influencing positive change? As a thought, you can talk about your own process of writing your essay. For example, you could say that collaboration is important for the future of nursing (which is true!) and that you are all about it. You could say that you collaborated with a me, a UT nursing alum, to explore nursing perspectives (which is part of what we are doing). Go on to make a general statement about how patients thrive when the medical team collaborates with one another (fewer errors). Finally, discuss your goal to work with policymakers to advocate for nurses or patients on a national level after you graduate. I don’t know if you want to go into politics, so pick something that applies to you. Basically, the central theme (collaboration) is carried throughout the essay from the here-and-now all the way into the far future. There are a bunch of current and contemporary nursing issues to choose from. The key is to make it your own. Also, mentioning “patient safety” and “evidence-based practice” are always good. If you have good intentions (are careful and focused and real) while writing your essay, it may very well come true. When we put something into thoughtful writing, the potential for it to become reality is very high. (You can even find a way to write about that!)

  • Avatar Shania Williams says:

    Hi! I currently attend UT and was wanting to do an internal transfer into the Nursing program. However, I have always wanted to go to A&M but I don’t know if the program at A&M is better than that at UT. Though I have always wanted to go to A&M, I want to attend the school with the better program. Please help!

    Also, I am from Austin – born and raised – so that was one of my main factors for going to A&M (to get away). I know that the academics go hand-in-hand but not sure which I should pick for Nursing.

  • Avatar Lisa Jackson says:

    What do you know about the nursing program at Texas Christian University? My daughter is applying to TCU for fall admission.

  • Avatar Jennifer Dang says:

    I am planning on doing nursing. I am taking some pre-reqs at my community college and am hoping to transfer to OU next Fall (2016) to continue taking my pre-reqs and was wondering if you knew anything about OU’s nursing program?

  • Avatar Jimm says:

    Hi, I’m considering changing careers at 47 and am passionate about becoming a nurse and attending UT School of Nursing. My wife is a UT Physician and I have become hooked at the thought of being a nurse. I will be applying as a re-admit transfer. Any advice you can give me as to the application process?

  • Avatar Mike says:

    Hey Nurse Gail,

    My daughter is now in the application process and on the list is Concordia in Austin, Baylor in Waco, UTA and UT. We’re getting down to the end here with tours and such and am now finding out about exceptence and rankings and prerequisites. All these schools except UT-Austin, have a path of prerequisites then you have to apply just to get in to the program at junior year. UTA has 600 kids apply for the program after two years of prerequisites and has 180 stops to fill. Baylors about the same with 3x’s the cost and Concordia is a school private school but I can’t find a lot about them besides what the actual school is telling me. (My daughter just received her acceptance letter from Concordia yesterday ). She really wants to be a Longhorn but with only 7% except it’s rates into the nursing program she’s calling it a longshot. I know you mentioned and commented on taking pre-Reqs at a community college and such. I just don’t understand why go to a four-year university and take two years of pre-Reqs and have a slim chance to get in a program. Have you heard anything about Concordia University And or UTA?
    Thx Mike

    • says:

      Mike, thanks for reading and commenting. The post is about the benefits of attending a large, well-known, nationally ranked school. The schools you mention (other than UT) do not fit the criteria. If someone choses a smaller school, their experience and outcome may be different. It is important to consider the career goals of your daughter. Where does she want to take her career? Gail Ingram is now a nurse practitioner in a private practice in Manhattan where educational pedigree is important. Who will your daughter be competing with in the job market? Will her education put her in a good position to follow her dreams?

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