Hospital, TSTC Provide Economic Power in Sweetwater

(SWEETWATER) – Ryan Moore was inspired to study nursing as she saw the care her brother received after a bad automobile accident.

“He was in the hospital for quite a while,” said Moore, 39, of Sweetwater. “The accident was serious and he had to learn how to walk, talk, tie his shoes – he had to learn how to do things for himself all over. Being with him in the hospital setting made me decide that’s what I wanted to do.”

Moore graduated from Texas State Technical College in 2001 with a Certificate 2 in Vocational Nursing. That same year, she began working as a nurse at Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital in Sweetwater. Moore has worked in medical surgery and now deals with orthopedic patients on surgery preparations, insurance, X-rays and relationship building.

Rolling Plains is one of the top four employers in Sweetwater with more than 300 workers, according to the Sweetwater Enterprise for Economic Development Inc. The medical center has a range of services for Nolan County residents including gynecology, nuclear medicine, physical therapy, sleep examinations and ophthalmology. TSTC graduates are a big part of the hospital’s work in nursing and information technology.

Having a hospital and technical college in the same county is a win for economic development because the city’s core businesses are in health care, manufacturing, conventional and renewable energy, logistics and hospitality. Having local emergency and health care options are factors for companies when deciding where to locate facilities, said Ken Becker, executive director of the Sweetwater Enterprise for Economic Development Inc.

“Each of these industry sectors has special needs when it comes to training,” said Becker. “TSTC has developed training programs to meet the specific needs of individual companies to industry sectors. As job opportunities and technology continue to evolve, continuous training will be required for entry-level to advanced manufacturing and everything in between.”

The technical college offers a four-semester Certificate 2 in Vocational Nursing in Sweetwater. Students study anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, neonatal nursing, surgical nursing and other skills. Nursing graduates must be licensed by the Texas Board of Nursing to work in healthcare environments.

LaBritta Rule, 41, of Sweetwater works in internal medicine and has been at the hospital periodically since the mid-1990s when she began in the admissions department. She graduated from TSTC with a Vocational Nursing certificate in 1999.

“I loved my instructors and everything they taught me,” Rule said. “I loved being able to do my clinicals at the hospital and be able to have primary nurses that I knew and was comfortable with teaching me. I loved being able to go to work following graduation at this hospital that I love being part of.”

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