By Roberto Hugo González
In a significant advancement for nursing education, South Texas College (STC) has revolutionized its Nursing Simulation Center through the introduction of state-of-the-art video simulation software. This valuable update, aimed at bolstering virtual training for STC nursing students, marks a decisive jump forward in the integration of technology in healthcare education.
Funded by a generous $3 million grant from the Department of Labor Health Care Professional Expansion Initiative, the cutting-edge software, valued at $500,000, was supplied and installed by Intelligent Video Solutions. This initiative was made possible through the collaborative efforts of STC and its longstanding ally, the Valley Initiative for Development and Advancement (VIDA), which annually contributes at least $500,000 to STC for student resources.
Jayson Valerio, DNP, STC’s Dean of Nursing and Allied Health, hailed the Video, Audio, Learning Tool (VALT) as a transformative educational tool. “By integrating VALT into our curriculum, we’re not just adopting new technology; we’re opening a doorway to the future of healthcare education, setting a new standard nationally,” Valerio emphasized. The implementation of VALT across STC’s campuses is poised to significantly enhance training and research opportunities for nursing students.
The announcement was made even more significant by the support from VIDA, under the leadership of President and CEO Felida Villarreal. VIDA’s commitment to developing virtual reality simulation centers at STC will enable nursing students to complete up to 50% of their clinical training via virtual reality, thereby expanding training capacity and accessibility, particularly in underserved regions.
STC President Dr. Ricardo J. Solis reflected on the strategic importance of merging healthcare and technology to meet the evolving needs of Texas, especially considering the state’s projected nursing shortage. This initiative aligns with STC’s mission to provide flexible, top-tier education to students, leveraging the latest in technological advancements.
Dr. Solis continued, “Today marks a significant milestone, and I’m delighted that VIDA has already mentioned the importance of this gathering. I’d like to emphasize a few points. Recall, upon my arrival here nearly two and a half years ago, our commitment at South Texas College was to evolve our offerings to meet the Rio Grande Valley’s needs, with a focus that has repeatedly been placed on health and technology. Today marks a progression from that commitment; not only are we continuing with health and technology, but we are also integrating them. We are providing education ‘anytime, anywhere’—and perhaps, it should also include ‘at any moment’. Essentially, we’re combining practical experience with the latest technological advancements. I’m proud to say that we have partnered with one of the foremost companies in this area, Intelligent Video Solutions, who are truly at the forefront of technological innovation. This partnership positions us uniquely, enabling us to offer hands-on experience with cutting-edge technology, a distinction not claimed by any other college. Shortly, we’ll showcase a video that further illustrates our innovative approach. Before we proceed, I must express my gratitude to those who have always supported STC, including my board at STC.”
Kevin Marti, CEO of Intelligent Video Solutions, commended STC for its exceptional training facilities and commitment to regional economic development, highlighting the college’s Nursing program as a leader in Texas for nursing graduates.
Tony Aguirre, the Board Chair for VIDA and a McAllen City Commissioner, addressed the audience with enthusiasm, emphasizing the importance of the human element in the educational evolution of the Rio Grande Valley. He spoke about overcoming stereotypes and the pride residents have in their heritage and the progress they are making, particularly in the area of medical education. Aguirre highlighted the significant increase in opportunities for aspiring nurses and doctors, comparing the limited slots available a decade ago to the substantial growth in educational capacity at institutions like UTRGV, UT Pan America (now part of UTRGV), and UTB in Brownsville, along with STC. His message was one of hope, progress, and the crucial role of the community in these advancements, underscoring the importance of local support and the potential for further development in the region’s medical field.
As STC and VIDA continue to strengthen their partnership, the integration of this advanced technology promises to enrich the learning experiences of nursing students, equipping them with the skills needed to excel in a dynamic healthcare environment.