Austin and San Antonio top the list of the 10 cities in the country with the highest nursing shortage, according to Monster.com.
With Precision Urgent Care opening in Copperas Cove last month, Scott & White breaking ground on a new clinic, Coryell Hospital in Gatesville and Rolling Brook in Lampasas, where will the nurses come from to fill the positions?
“By 2020, workforce studies show that Texas will have a large shortage of nurses across the state,” said Sandra Thomason, chairman of the Department of Nursing at Central Texas College. “Knowing that, we have really kicked in and increased enrollment in the nursing program.”
Thomason said when she arrived at the CTC, 70 students, 35 each semester, were admitted into the nursing program annually. Over the last seven years, CTC has increased enrollment by 25 percent with 100 students, 50 each semester, now admitted annually.
The critical issue in nursing education now is the lack of nursing instructors, who are required to have master’s degrees, an option the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor (UMHB) in Belton recently added to its curriculum, Thomason said.
CTC has a 94.5 percent passing rate for nursing students and was one of 12 schools to receive a commendation for this achievement.
JoAnn Banks, a nurse recruiter with Scott & White, said she looks to CTC and other area colleges and universities to keep her nursing positions filled.
“We are fortunate to have three great nursing schools in the area with CTC, Temple College and UMHB to pull nursing graduates from and often pull from Waco,” Banks said. “We currently have applications for all of our positions. But, we are always recruiting.”
Two more nurses were added to the employee pool thanks to Workforce Solutions of Central Texas. Danielle Erb of Copperas Cove graduated as a registered nurse from CTC in May and was quickly hired by Metroplex Health System’s Rolling Brook Hospital in Lampasas. But, Erb’s dream of becoming a nurse almost didn’t happen. She dropped out of school when she prematurely delivered twins in September 2011. She returned to school with the assistance of childcare services through Workforce Solutions of Central Texas.
“Without (Workforce Solutions), it would not have been possible for me to go to school after my kids were born,” Erb said. “The assistance allowed me to finish school so that I could be financially independent.”
Erb said her wages have increased 75 percent with her new nursing job and her family has health insurance for the first time. She was recently honored with the Excellence in Workforce Achievement Award from Central Texas Workforce Solutions. Chrystal Vandeventer of Kempner also received the award for completing an associate degree in nursing despite numerous obstacles. She now works at Scott & White with a starting salary of $18 per hour, doubling that of her past wages, according to Workforce Solutions.