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The oil boom doesn’t seem to be having much effect on nursing programs around West Texas. In fact, with the notable–and by this time predictable–exception of the Texas State Technical College West Texas, nursing programs in the area, in terms of degrees and certificates awarded, seem to be having a renaissance of sorts lately. At least that’s true for the last two years on record, 2011 and 2012, at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s Higher Education Accountability website. TSTC West Texas, on the other hand, managed to see its worst two nursing program years in 2011 and 2012. Please click on the image below to enlarge it and take a look:

Nursing Program Degrees and Certificates Awarded

Nursing Program Degrees and Certificates Awarded

A couple of things immediately jump out of that spreadsheet.  First, every college except TSTC West Texas had at least one of its best nursing program years in FY 2011 or FY 2012 in terms of degrees and certificates awarded to students. TSTC West Texas, as already discussed, had its two WORST years in 2011 and 2012, and that from a college that actually had better numbers than any other college in 2007 and 2008.

Graphically, colleges’ performance looks like this:

Raw Number of West Texas 2-Yr College Nursing Awards

Raw Number of West Texas 2-Yr College Nursing Awards

Just look at TSTC West Texas’s rise to the top of the heap only to drop like a rock off a cliff to very nearly the bottom of the pile, above only Western Texas College, which actually had its second-best year in 2012. Of course, TSTC West Texas absolutely crushes the competition when considering the percentage drop in nursing awards from the highest year to 2012:

West Texas Community College Nursing Program Percentage Drop 130713

(Note that no statistical bar appears for Odessa College and Ranger College because their best year was in 2012; their percent change was zero.)

While TSTC frequently points out that it is different from community colleges, and it is, it is perfectly valid to compare different colleges’ technical programs and their performance and include TSTC’s programs in the mix. Just look at the plunging, light blue bar in the graph above depicting TSTC’s performance (a breathtaking 79.17% drop). Something happened at TSTC West Texas to produce these terrible numbers and statistics, and it wasn’t the oil boom. If it were, then every college’s nursing numbers would be taking similar hits. At least part of the answer in TSTC’s case is that the State Board of Nursing took action in 2012 to prohibit TSTC West Texas from accepting new Associate Degree Nursing Program students as the document linked below indicates:

State Board of Nursing BON Agenda Item and Report TSTC West Texas Conditional Status 120119-20

Even so, the State Board of Nursing took action in 2012 (the prohibition has since been lifted) and TSTC West Texas’s drop began in earnest in 2009, long before the Board of Nursing stepped in. What sort of decisions, actions, or inaction produced that drop? For that matter, what produced the drop in other technologies, as well, and created a campus-wide, for-credit student enrollment drop of 56% from fall 2008 to fall 2012?

Whatever it was, I’m hoping TSTC leadership has finally figured it out and stops the drop in fall 2013.

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