Grow Your Own Nursing Programs

An air ambulance prepares for flight in front of Medical City Hospital

Medical City Dallas benefits from the partnership with El Centro College.


Hospital Corporation of America
Methodist Health System


El Centro College Center for Allied Health and Nursing


Partner-funded “Grow Your Own Nursing Program” between health systems and El Centro College’s Associate Degree Nursing program to produce registered nurses from the hospitals’ own employee bases.

Goal and Target Population

With hospitals facing a critical nursing shortage, this program provides a pathway to fill specific workforce demand by producing more registered nurses from within the hospitals themselves. Any employee who has worked for at least six months in a participating hospital system and has no disciplinary action currently or within the previous six months can apply for the program.


Each hospital system pays for tuition, books, supplies and uniform in its individual “Grow Your Own Nursing Program.” In return, the employee signs a contract to work as a nurse within the sponsoring hospital for two years.


Methodist Hospital, Dallas

Methodist Dallas Health Center employees are eligible for the program.

Hospital employees have to meet specific employer requirements as well as the requirements of El Centro College’s Associate Degree Nursing program, a two-year, 60-credit-hour program. Associate Degree Nursing graduates are eligible to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed as a registered nurse (RN) in Texas.

Challenges and Solutions

The biggest challenge within the program is finding qualified nursing faculty to teach the lecture classes. Hospital partners provide nursing faculty with master’s degrees for labs and clinical rotations, helping the college address faculty shortage.

Strategies for Success

Program administrators and hospital representatives meet monthly to discuss topics such as student success and progress, expected enrollment, exams and classroom activities. Each hospital has its own graduation ceremony in which college officials participate. Program faculty are hospital employees, paid by the hospitals and released back to the college for teaching purposes. They participate in all aspects of the program, including committee assignments, curriculum writing and development and faculty meetings, with the same expectations as other El Centro Nursing faculty.

Texas Health Resources has produced 434 graduates through the program.


In each of the hospitals, about 80% of the nurses who have graduated from the program are still employed at the sponsoring hospital, with about 70% of those going on to either obtain additional nursing degrees or assume leadership positions. The programs have produced:

  • Hospital Corporation of America: 147 graduates
  • Methodist Health System: 187 graduates
  • Texas Health Resources: 434 graduates

Lessons Learned

The health care sector and academia can work together to address critical workforce demand, learning valuable lessons from each other. Hospital partners have found a profitable return by investing in education and training for existing employees, resulting in loyal staff members who are familiar with the specific hospital’s culture and work environment. The bottom line is that it’s more cost effective to provide resources that upgrade skills for existing employees than it is to hire and orient new nurses from outside.

Hospitals participating in this program also have re-examined their delivery of educational resources to employees and have moved from a “reimburse the employee” model to a “pay up front” model in which each hospital pays the college directly for student tuition. Hospital partners provide support services to participating students such as mentors and flexible scheduling options.

El Centro has found that this collaboration has helped keep its nursing curriculum current and aligned with industry needs.

What Our Partners Say

Tricia Scott
Tricia Scott
Division Director for Workforce Development
Hospital Corporation of America
“ The Texas 2-Step Nursing Pathways Program which is provided through a partnership between El Centro College and HCA North Texas is a true win-win situation. It has benefited numerous employees from all departments in the hospitals who, without this opportunity, would never have been able to attend nursing school. It helps the hospitals fill open nursing positions with high-quality nurses who are extremely loyal. And, not least among these, it allows the college to increase the number of graduates. ”

HCA’s Texas 2-Step Nursing Pathways Program funds the associate degree nursing program for employees in partnership with El Centro, as well a bachelor’s degree nursing program.

Where the Jobs Are

According to job growth projections by the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) through 2022, health-related occupations will add the most new jobs to the economy ­— nearly one-third of the total increase, or about 5 million jobs. Fourteen of the top 20 fastest-growing jobs listed by America’s Career Infonet through 2022 are in health care occupations. Registered nurses are No. 6 in Money — U.S. News and World Report’s Best 100 Jobs overall and No. 4 for its Best Health Care Jobs.

Workforce Solutions of Greater Dallas lists projected job openings and salaries in its 2014-2015 Targeted Occupations list for:

Job titleDallas employment in 2014-2015Dallas mean wage per hour
Registered nurses24,020$33.40

America’s Career Infonet lists these statistics for salaries and job growth in Texas:

Job titleMedian hourly salaryMedian annual salaryProjected job growth through 2022
Registered nurses$32.36$67,300+28%

For More Information

Jesse Elizardo II
El Centro College Center for Allied Health and Nursing