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I’m Doug Hawthorne, CEO of Texas Health Resources, with “The Business of Health Care Report.”
Texas’ nursing shortage is estimated at 22,000, and the average age of a nurse in Texas is 46.8. As a significant portion of our nursing workforce ages and approaches retirement, it is critical that we educate more people to become nurses.
One strategy Texas Health Resources is using to combat the shortage is to ‘grow our own’ nurses through our Prodigy Program, now in its fourth year.
High school graduates interested in pursuing careers in nursing or allied health can apply to the program, and, if accepted, receive 8 to 10 weeks of summer training to become certified patient care technicians. The students then apply for jobs at Texas Health Resources hospitals and begin working for us part time. We pay for their tuition, fees, books, and supplies, and in return, they commit to work in our hospitals for at least two years after they graduate from nursing school.
The Prodigy Program is a win-win for the students and for our hospitals. The cost to educate each aspiring nurse is about $20,000. That’s half the amount we typically spend to recruit a nurse from out of state.
The 23 students in the 2009 Prodigy class are just finishing their first semester. We hope they choose to be a part of the Texas Health family for years to come.
For our faith-based family of hospitals — Texas Health Presbyterian, Texas Health Harris Methodist and Texas Health Arlington Memorial — I’m Doug Hawthorne.