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'The Business of Health Care Report'

Texas Nursing Legislation

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

The Texas Legislature has set aside $49.7 million in funding for nursing programs across the state, including $30 million in upfront funding so nursing schools can immediately increase enrollments for the fall 2009 semester.

Each year in Texas, thousands of nursing students are turned away from nursing programs because there is a shortage of faculty to train them. This funding should help nursing schools admit more students who have been placed on waiting lists for nursing education programs.

It is imperative that we train and deploy more nurses in Texas. Our state is suffering from a critical nursing shortage; current estimates place the shortage at about 22,000 nurses statewide. As a direct result of the shortage, nurse vacancy rates at Texas hospitals are rising, and many nurses are working longer shifts to make up for it.

Without the additional funding, it was estimated that by 2020, the shortage of nurses in Texas could reach 70,000. Texas’ population is growing at twice the rate of the national average, and the aging baby boomer generation will continue to create an escalating demand for health care services.

Our health care system cannot function without nurses. I applaud the Legislature for having the foresight and determination to plan for the future of health care in our state.

For our faith-based family of hospitals — Texas Health Presbyterian, Texas Health Harris Methodist and Texas Health Arlington Memorial — I’m Doug Hawthorne.

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