In a small classroom located in a building just across from the Heart of Texas Memorial Hospital, a group of 12 ladies are continuing a long-standing tradition. As part of the Central Texas College Vocational Nursing Program, the students will complete a one year, 53 credit hour course. Upon completion of the course, they will be ready to take the state board examination to eventually practice as licensed vocational nurses. The class that begins in August is one of the earliest nursing programs in the state of Texas. The beginning of the next class will mark the 50th class to go through the program. As of August 2000, 335 individuals have graduated from the program which began in the fall of 1951. Managed by the local hospital for 23 years early on in the life of the program, the nursing class spent a few years under the auspices of the Brady Independent School District before being taken over by Central Texas College. Students in the class in the early years of the program were required to complete 200 hours of classroom instruction. Today, students in the course complete over 900 classroom hours and 860 clinical hours by the time they receive their certificate of completion. “We teach everything from total patient care to individual clinical experience,” said program coordinator Martha Williams “The students spend most of the fall semester in the classroom learning the basics of health science, concepts and foundations of nursing, medication administration, nursing skills, nutrition, geriatrics and mental health. They spend their clinical hours at various local facilities including the hospital, Shuffield Nursing Homes and local doctors’ clinics.” The program is designed to give the students maximum exposure to various conditions they will be exposed to as licensed vocational nurses. The clinical hours in the spring semester are spent in Brownwood at the hospital where they experience everything from surgery to labor and delivery. Individuals who are interested in becoming a LVN must apply to the program must have a high school diploma or G.E.D. with a score of 40 or higher. Once they submit an application, they also must pass an aptitude test and complete a personal interview. Class sizes are limited to 12-15 students to enhance the learning process by individualized and one-on-one instruction. The program that meets in Brady is a course that is narrowed from a larger pool of applicants. As instructor of the CTC program for the past 12 years, Williams has had the privilege to usher dozens of students through the doors of opportunity. According to the latest surveys, there is a severe shortage of nurses in the job market making now a prime opportunity for interested persons to consider enrolling in the LVN program. For more information about the opportunities that are available through CTC or specifically the LVN program offered here in Brady, call 597-2901.