Where are the Jobs? Check With The Nurse.

The State of Texas wants to see more people sitting in nursing classrooms at UT Tyler. That's because eventually the students there will be life savers in emergency rooms and clinics.

In the next ten years, Texas needs an additional 138,000 nurses just to keep pace with the patient load. Many of those nursing jobs are available here in East Texas. Local hospitals say they expect to hire between 300-400 nurses this year.

"Nursing salaries have been rising consistently," says School of Nursing Dean, Linda Klotz. "And, if you look at the benefits package with that, new graduates have a very lucrative position coming into the workforce."

The average graduate can expect signing bonuses of $5,000 on top of a starting salary of $42,000. So students like Kristen Kirkwood have found the job hunting roles reversed. "They're pursuing me. I get letters and phone calls, literally every week asking me to come up and interview. And, they're throwing money at us, and incentives, and bonuses, paying me to move up there."

Heidi Knapp already has an accounting degree. She says her first year as a nurse will let her earn more than she did in her entire accounting career. "Just being a staff accountant you don't make as much, and it was surprising. It was a pleasant surprise when I found out nursing paid so well."

Kelly Terry wanted to be a doctor growing up. Now, she thinks she'll be happier as a nurse. "Nursing just seemed like a more available route simply because of the time it takes to become a doctor. I want to have a family some day and I just didn't think that would be possible going to med school."

In addition to the financial reward and the job security during uncertain times, nursing can offer an intangible benefit most careers could never touch. That's part of why more and more Texans are heading back to school to learn how to heal. They're helping themselves by helping the rest of us.

Stephen Parr, reporting.