Nursing Students Blossom Through Program

Ana Grave Reyes is a float patient care technician at Medical Center of McKinney, where she participated in Collin College's Grow Your Own Registered Nursing program

Ana Grace Reyes is a float patient care technician at Medical Center of McKinney, where she participated in Collin College’s “Grow Your Own Registered Nursing” program. Reyes, who recently earned an associate degree in Nursing from Collin College, was among the first students to complete this unique program.

It is not every day that a college student has an opportunity to have his or her future employer pay your entire tuition to pursue a career. Not to mention a promise that includes at least a two-year job commitment after your graduation.

Students in Collin College’s “Grow Your Own Registered Nursing” program are afforded these perks as well as others. Additionally, the GYO program, which started in 2010, takes care of students’ fees and books, as well as allows them to take classes in the medical facilities – via video conferencing – and complete clinicals at a HCA facility.

Currently, Collin College has GYO partnerships with The Medical Center of Plano and Medical Center of McKinney – both of which provide this unique opportunity to non-nurse employees.

“The program is truly ‘growing your own’ nurses,” Dr. Nell Ard, director of Collin College’s Nursing Department, said. “The program has been a win-win for both HCA and Collin College. Students who may not have had an opportunity to acquire a nursing degree are able to do so and will be an asset to the profession. The Nursing Department is tracking these students as a separate cohort and they are performing at the same level as the generic students in the program.”


Among the students performing well is Ana Grace Reyes. She was one of the GYO program’s first graduates, recently earning an associate degree in Nursing from Collin College.

“I see this program as a win-win situation. We get access to top-rated HCA facilities during lectures, clinicals and very good preceptorships,” said Reyes, a Float Patient Care Technician at Medical Center of McKinney. “Having onsite experience at the hospital you work for is a big advantage because you get acquainted and trained on what the actual nursing processes are.”

Coincidently, this was the thought process behind starting the program, Dr. Ard noted, adding that students in the program have worked in a variety of roles, including patient care technicians, administrative secretary and perioperative techs, among others.

“I am very involved with the Collin College School of Nursing, and I participate on nursing level and academic committees. There is compassion and caring from the HCA standpoint when it comes to the GYO program,” said Gary Huey, a Collin College adjunct professor and the Learning Institute Coordinator for the GYO program. “We want successful students to enter our program who have support both at work and at home. The students know our core values, mission and philosophy, which entitle them to blend in quicker after graduation.”


Upon graduating, GYO students must receive a bachelor’s degree in nursing within two years, according to Huey. GYO students are also given priority for interviews and positions as RNs after passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).

“Going through this program helped a lot financially and experience wise. My skill level has improved tremendously,” Reyes said. “I am extremely proud and take it as a big responsibility to set good examples for the succeeding batches of new GYO nurses. As a student in the first graduating class, this is one accomplishment we are all proud of. We can be ambassadors to new applicants and tell them about the wonderful and challenging experiences we had.”

To learn more about Collin College’s “Grow your Own Registered Nursing” program, call 972.547.8120 or email For additional information about Collin College’s Nursing program, visit .

Reprinted with permission by Plano Profile