Inside ACC’s Professional Nursing Program

The Health Sciences department at ACC has a profound reputation in Austin.

by Foster Milburn

Graphic by Claudia Hinojos

Health science students at Austin Community College are prepared for the fast-growing healthcare industry as the college offers a flexible education pathway, realistic hospital settings, and a high state pass rate. 

A career as a registered nurse might be ideal for students who are driven to help others and are passionate about science. 

Post COVID, the supply and demand for nurses has resulted in a shortage of nurses globally. With the high demand, the pay remains an appealing incentive for entering the work field.

According to Indeed, the average yearly salary for a registered nurse (RN) in Texas is $89,905; a well-paying salary in the field results from the long hours and the emotional pressure of being a nurse. 

At ACC, students have a wide range of options in picking their major or starting a trade-specific program. 

Professional nursing is different from other areas of study as it requires the student to apply and be accepted into the program, whereas other studies are open to students at any time. To be registered in this program, students are also expected to complete a series of prerequisites. 

If a student is interested in nursing, they should go to the ACC website. Professor Abraham, an Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) level two professor, advises: “Definitely, the Health Sciences page is the best place to start.”

One thing to think about prior to considering nursing school is the complexity and dedication required. “What helps is having a realistic goal when starting nursing school,” Professor Abraham said.“Nursing school is a full-time job.” 

That might raise the question of whether you can work outside the classroom to provide income for your living expenses beyond what you receive from loans. “Yes, you can. It will not be easy, but it is possible.” Christina Berger, a level II ADN Student at ACC and a mother of two, points out.

For many students, having a job while in school is necessary. An outside income is a requirement as some live independently or have children. Christina Knighton discussed working while being in the program. “I understand that it is reality, and we can’t not all work. Students have scaled back their hours to ensure they have more time for the program,” she said. 

So, you might be wondering what other options are available. Knighton brings up the option of saving between semesters to have extra income during semesters. “This program is a full-time job,” she said.

With the disclaimers addressed, it would be best to meet with an advisor if a student is still interested in starting the program. It can be something other than Health Sciences, too. 

Christina Knighton spoke about her personal experience with her advisor, “I started by speaking to my advisor, who gave me information about the prerequisites for the ADN program. She helped me stay on track and made sure I met the deadlines for application.” 

The application process can be confusing for students navigating through the steps for the first time. It is much more information than other programs of study because it is specialized and more selective. 

However, that does not mean there aren’t people to help you along the way. Because of having high standards going into the program, the resources continue beyond the application process. 

“Once in the program, there are retention services available that can help with financial aid, study tips, and time management,” Knighton said. 

Regarding the prerequisites, one might ask if they are beneficial to the courses they are required to take. For the professional nursing program, ADN, the associate degree plan requires four prerequisites. If taken subsequently, the classes can be completed in approximately three semesters. 

“Pharmacology and Anatomy & Physiology give you the foundation for going into nursing school,” Knighton said. “When you have a deeper understanding of how the body works, it is easier to understand the disease processes you learn about once in the program.”

Secondly, the other requirement for applying for admission into the program is the HESI exam. The exam is a test that covers the material learned in the prerequisites where students are “tested on knowledge and how you would apply that knowledge in a clinical setting,” Knighton said. 

The HESI Admission Assessment fee is currently at $62.00. The minimum passing score is 75 percent, and the test covers anatomy, physiology, math, reading, grammar, and critical thinking. 

The HEXI exam varies in complexity. “Exposure to NCLEX style questions helps a lot when preparing for the HESI or nursing school exams in general,” Knighton said. 

The NCLEX is the exam taken after completion of the program. “You can find them online, and there are many apps you can download for free,” Christina Berger said. 

To conclude, it is best to speak directly with an advisor if one is considering the Nursing program or any other Health Sciences program. They can give you more personable advice while understanding your circumstances. 

The nursing program here at ACC has an outstanding reputation within Texas and across the country. Austin American-Statesman presented the program with the 2020 Best of the Best Award on Jan. 11 of last year – an endowment worthy of what it offers. 

Computer Science Club Highlight

Story by Nathan Lu

Graphic by Claudia Hinojos

When first enrolling in Austin Community College, very few students recognize the importance and benefits of joining a student organization. Although it may appear that spending numerous hours in meetings is a waste of time when other obligations such as school, work, and family take precedence, joining a student organization like the Computer Science Club is one of the best decisions that a student can make.

Produced and written by Nathan Lu, the video interviews Computer Science Club members Hani Kamee, Malik Rawashdeh and Jason Kim covering their experience in the student organization.

The Computer Science Club (CSC) is one of ACC’s most active and largest clubs, where students interested in programming, technology, and software can share common interests, support each other, and work on projects that impact the community. Hani Kamee, a passionate Software Development major, joined the club during the Spring 2022 semester.

At first, Kamee was hesitant to join the club because he did not know what to expect from a tech-related student organization, but he quickly realized that it was one of the best decisions he had ever made. “I know for a fact that when you surround yourself with like-minded people, you will thrive and prosper, and that’s what I did,” Kamee said. 

The group’s primary purpose is to provide a community where students from all backgrounds can experience the power of coding and support each other throughout the process. Although the club is geared toward Computer Science students, the group welcomes all students interested in technology.

Malik Rawashdeh, the club’s vice president, saw the expansion of the club first-hand, from a group of 50 students to an active community of 300+ members. By inviting professionals from the tech industry to speak during the club’s general meetings, members can learn from experts and visualize a clear path towards a job in software engineering.

“We’ve had a freelance web developer come in and talk about his day-to-day work, professors come in and speak about their graduate studies in machine learning and neural networks. The blockchain club at UT Austin gives an intro to cryptocurrency and the blockchain itself,” Rawashdeh said. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all club meetings have been entirely virtual, but the club has consistently grown in size while beginning to shift back towards in-person meetings.

Members of CSC aren’t just satisfied to be typical CS students either; instead, they go out of their way to build projects that impact the community. “Our first project was a website portfolio, where anyone interested in building a personal website could join and share work,” said Jason Kim, the club’s treasurer. The club has also organized a browser-based game, machine learning subgroup, and a discord bot, all projects outlined and created by club members.

One of the more notable projects the club has worked on is an overlay system to improve accessibility for disabled people concerning video games. In traditional first-person shooter games, sound and communication are vital to playing any game competitively. Club members knew that solving this problem would significantly bridge the gap between the disabled and gaming communities. The team created an overlay system to visualize sound in the form of visual cues on the screen and a detailed voice chat transcription service. By utilizing their knowledge of audio manipulation and native system manipulation, the team provided accessibility for the deaf and hard of hearing community and was able to see the impact of their work first-hand.

Additionally, CSC holds interview preparation events on a regular basis for members interested in preparing for the job acquisition process. “Through our tech-interview workshops and mock interviews, [students] were able to prepare themselves for the job searching process, and several of our members landed jobs at very well-known tech companies,” said Rawashdeh. 

While the club recognizes that working on projects is essential, homework help is still at the core of what the club stands for. By building a diverse community of students with different skill sets, there is no question left unanswered, no matter how difficult the question is. “Every time I’ve asked for help, I got it,” said Kamee. The world of software engineering is one of the most technically challenging fields, but by collaborating with others, the Computer Science Club ensures that those who need help can receive it. The club hosts general meetings every week and has various club projects and events occurring throughout the week, free for anyone to attend. 

The Computer Science Club welcomes students from all backgrounds and aims to foster a supportive and encouraging environment. Rawashdeh encourages anyone interested in coding to join CSC and experience the thriving community first-hand. “If there is one thing that I’ve learned from the club, it’s that coding is a collaborative effort. If you might not know something, somebody else probably does,” Kim said. 

For further inquiries or questions, join their Discord channel today!