EL PASO, Texas - A group of around 40 students filed into classrooms at Southwest University for their new nursing program.
Jesus Casas, 44, was among the students. He said he's a grandfather and an emergency medical technician.
"It's nice to kind of refocus myself and go for the career goals that I've wanted since 1990," said Casas.
After working in and around hospitals his whole life, he said it's a relief to finally be on the path to reach his goals.
"It's great because I can still work in the evening while going to school, and not tax myself too much -- and still have time for the family," said Casas.
Southwest University Academic Dean Jeremy Burciaga said applicants like Casas are ideal.
"Students that have already worked in the field, students that understand what it's like to be a nurse, to understand the difficulties of handling patients," said Burciaga
The new programs offers students options: an Associate's Degree in Nursing, and Bachelor's of Nursing. The programs take 14 to 22 months to complete, and cost between $20,000 and $40,000.
The University does offer financial aide and reimbursement options.
Similar programs are available at schools around El Paso.
UTEP offers a program for registered nurses to earn a bachelor's online, and on campus. El Paso Community College offers a licensed vocational nursing program, and associate of applied science, which allows students to become Registered Nurses.
Whatever option you choose on your journey to working in health care, Dr. Amanda Anaya, Southwest University Director of Nursing, said the nursing shortage is worsening.
"There's a huge nursing shortage not only for the state of Texas, but for the nation," said Anaya. "It's predicted in 2020 that we're going to have a shortage of over 30 percent of nurses."
She said there's "just more patients than doctors and nurses to go around."
Southwest University offers financial aide, and tuition reimbursement. If you're interested in any of their programs, click here for more details.