Nursing profession thriving in Texas, study says

Despite the unpredictability that comes with the profession, those who make up the staff of nurses at Seton Medical Center Hays in Kyle dedicate their lives to improving the heath of fellow residents.

Among these are Kristen Brooks and Vanessa Cuellar, nurses at Seton Hays.

Brooks is an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) nurse while Cuellar is a recovery nurse. Although these two nurses fulfill different roles at the hospital, both work tirelessly for the patients they serve. 

Cuellar, a Kyle native, started off as a pediatric recovery nurse in San Antonio before moving to Austin and eventually to Kyle.

“The variety of recovery care that I have done has been amazing for me,” Cuellar said. “You’re seeing the patients from all aspects of their care when they are with us, so you build a special relationship with them.”

Cuellar said the role of a nurse is to educate and facilitate care for patients, acting as a caregiver to those in need.
Brooks said she knew she wanted to be a nurse ever since she was in the 6th grade.

Having worked in urban intercity hospitals to Level I trauma centers, Brooks’ nearly decade-long tenure as a nurse has given her a plethora of experience throughout the field.

And throughout the memories, there was always one that stuck with Brooks.

When completing her clinical internship or capstone, Brooks was working with a patient who had both of his legs amputated in a traumatic motorcycle accident.

The patient was told he would never walk again, but with some grit and hard work, he overcame those boundaries.

The patient returned to the nurses after rehab, thanking the nurses during his recovery.

“He walked back to us to thank us, and I knew then and there that this patient was a true testament to what we do,” Brooks said. “To see him walking again…it’s what keeps me going.”

Both Brooks and Cuellar work in a profession that’s gathering steam in Texas.

A recent study conducted by finance company WalletHub ranks Texas 13th in the nation for the best places to work as a nurse. The study cites a great work environment, compensation and demand for the job sector as part of its study.

“With high starting salaries and the presence of the Nursing Licensure Compact law, the state does a good job employing nurses,” said Jill Gonzalez, an analyst for Wallethub. “There is also still a lot of competition in this profession, and the state is attractive to nursing school grads looking for a place to work.”

Gonzalez said Texas ranks the highest in average starting salary for nurses, as well as an abundance of high-quality nursing schools. However, the profession is faced with some challenges that range from mandatory overtimes and overstaffing. But these are issues that are not prevalent in the Lone Star State.

“Despite these issues, nursing is still one of the most lucrative careers, with the lowest unemployment rate in the country,” Gonzalez said. “This is because there is a growing demand for nurses, especially in light of so many baby boomers retiring and in need of care.”

Cuellar said she intends to stay in the community she has called home all her life.

“I don’t see myself leaving because I love it here,” Cuellar said. “I love the fact that I’ve been here pretty much all my life. Our job is to care for the citizens and it’s evident when you meet the nurses here.”

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