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'The Business of Health Care Report'

Needed Funds Coming for Texas Nursing Faculty

I’m Doug Hawthorne, president and CEO of Texas Health Resources, with “The Business of Health Care Report.”

Our state is facing a nursing shortage, yet according to the Texas Hospital Association, Texas schools turned away more than 4,200 qualified applicants from nursing programs in 2003. The problem is not a lack of interest among prospective students – it’s that there are not enough nursing faculty to meet the growing demand.

The Texas Nurses Association notes that the problem is exacerbated by an aging nursing faculty, whose median age is now 51, and inadequate salaries, which drive some existing faculty away and create a scarcity of applicants for open teaching positions.

The Texas Legislature did something about the problem this spring when it voted to appropriate $6 million for the Professional Nursing Shortage Reduction Fund, created in 2001 to increase faculty at nursing schools as a means to produce more registered nurses.

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board also may transfer excess, unused nursing financial aid to this fund.

On behalf of Texas Health Resources, I’d like to thank the Legislature for recognizing the great need this state has for more nurses – and for understanding that we can’t have more nurses if there is no one to teach them. This action alone will not solve the problem of our state’s nursing shortage, but it is a step in the right direction.

For Texas Health Resources and its faith-based hospitals – Harris Methodist, Presbyterian and Arlington Memorial – I’m Doug Hawthorne.

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