NATCHITOCHES – Army Sgt. Rodolfo Esparza, a nursing major at Northwestern State University, has been accepted into the Army Medical Department Enlisted Commissioned Program. This program provides eligible Active Duty, Reserve, National Guard or Activated Guard Reserve Army Soldiers the opportunity to complete a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and receive a commission in the Active Duty component of the Army Nurse Corps.
Esparza is stationed at Fort Polk and takes classes at NSU’s Leesville/Fort Polk campus. He first heard about the program three years ago.
“I always thought it was an impossible feat,” said Esparza, an El Paso Texas, native. “I always strive to continue my education and my first step was attaining my LVN license through the Army that paved the way for me to work towards getting a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.”
Esparza feels nursing is one way to expand his service.
“I want to pursue nursing because I know I can continue to serve my country by taking care of those who might be in the worst time of their lives,” said Esparza, who has been on active duty for five and a half years. “I find that very rewarding that I can have the ability to make that impact on people’s lives.”
Participants retain their rank, grade and military benefits while participating in the program. Participation is limited to 24 consecutive months of enrollment. After the soldier graduates with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and passes the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX), they report to the Direct Commissioning Course at Fort Sill, Oklahoma and will be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army Nurse Corps. They then report to Basic Office Leadership Course in San Antonio.
NSU’s BSN program meets all program requirements for Army Enlisted Commissioned Program which are: the institution must not charge the Army more than $15,000 per academic year; the nursing school must be accredited through either Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing or Commission of Collegiate Nursing Education and must have an NCLEX pass rate of 90 percent or higher within the last 3 consecutive years. Northwestern State is accredited by both organizations. Other requirements are that all classes must be taught in English; the program must be completed in 24 months and the nursing school must be within at least 100 miles of a Military Treatment Facility of any branch of service.
Esparza said military service has provided him with better opportunities.
“I was working two jobs helping my mother with bills and I wanted more purpose in life,” he said. “I also wanted to challenge myself and prove that I can serve my country in the best way I can in the military.”
He said the faculty and staff at Northwestern have worked to prepare him for future endeavors.
“Northwestern’s nursing program and staff have made my experience as a student very clear,” said Esparza, “They reassured me that their accredited program meets the Army strict regimen when it comes the AECP program. From my nursing advisors and my military liaison, I don’t think I could have chosen a better university to help me get to the next chapter in my life.”
For more information on Northwestern State’s nursing programs, nursing.nsula.edu/nursing-programs. Information on Northwestern State’s Leesville-Fort Polk campus is at nsula.edu/leesville.
Army Sgt. Rodolfo Esparza, left, is congratulated by Dr. Linda Nichols, coordinator of nursing on Northwestern State University’s Leesville/Fort Polk campus, for his acceptance into the Army AMEDD Enlisted Commissioned Program.