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Bill Thienes gifts $25,000 for Blinn College District nursing programs to introduce virtual-reality training

Technology is increasingly valuable in training the next generation of nursing professionals


October 20, 2022

The newest training for future nurses doesn’t even involve real patients. Welcome to the world of virtual reality (VR).

The Blinn College District has received a $25,000 donation that will help expand its use of VR technology. The donation came from Bill Thienes of Brenham, a retired petroleum engineer who previously gifted two endowed scholarships to the Blinn College Foundation.

Thienes’ generous donation will be used to establish a VR simulation program that will complement Blinn’s extensive healthcare simulation programs.

“This is our pilot project,” said Karla Ross, Associate Degree Nursing Program Director. “We will get the equipment we need, integrate it into our simulation center, and then start adding the software and evaluate how it integrates with our curriculum. We are very excited.”

Thienes said he initially thought VR was involved primarily in the computer gaming world, but found it was becoming increasingly useful in medical training. He decided to make the donation to Blinn after researching VR and learning about its training possibilities.

“When I toured the nurses training facilities at Blinn, I was amazed and I wondered what could be next,” Thienes said. “The ‘next’ is virtual reality. VR is really going to help save lives. I’m just so happy I can do this for Blinn and help it get the VR equipment and software for its nursing programs.”

The Blinn College District offers a number of nursing career pathways, including Certified Nurse Aide, Vocational Nursing, and Associate Degree Nursing . It offers pathways for current vocational nurses and EMS professionals to earn their associate degree and a variety of transfer opportunities for associate degree graduates to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree and beyond.

Ross said VR can be a tremendous teaching tool.

“It’s like you are there. You put on the headset and have joysticks which allow you to conduct assessments,” she said. “In medicine, they even practice surgeries using VR. You just put on a headset and you are immersed in that world. Students not only get to practice something that they wouldn’t get to do otherwise, but if they didn’t do well the first time, they can do it again and again until they get it right.”

Dean of Health Sciences Michelle Trubenstein said she hopes to expand the use of VR throughout the division.

“We are starting with nursing, but I see it being used in all our other programs as well,” she said.

For more information regarding Blinn’s nursing programs, visit

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