At the end of May, Methodist Richardson Medical Center had nearly 100 vacancies for registered nurses to fill.
These vacancies correspond to a growing shortage of nurses, state officials say, that are occurring across Texas.
Projections from the Texas Department of Health and Human Services show that hospitals across the state are facing a shortage of nurses and other full-time staff. The demand for full-time registered nurses is expected to reach nearly 350,000 over the next decade, according to Texas projections.
Based on these estimates, more than 16% of open RN jobs in 2032 may not be filled. That could leave the public health care sector short of more than 57,000 employees.
“We’re definitely seeing a shortage of nurses right now,” Methodist Richardson president Ken Hutchenrider said. “There was already a shortage before COVID[-19], [but it] just exacerbated by all the patients who came in for health care at that time.
Although there was a surplus of full-time registered professional nurses in 2018, the projected demand will create a shortage of more than 12,500 full-time employees by 2025. Professional nurses collect medical samples, take vital signs and more.
State data shows the shortage is expected to more than double between 2025 and 2032.
Across Texas, 9% of nursing facilities reported staffing shortages at the end of March, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit that provides nonpartisan facts about the issues. health.
A beneficial partnership
Hospitals are using their partnerships with colleges and universities to help fill staffing shortages, said Candy Baptist, director of the career transformation center at Texas Health Resources University.
Hospital system employees collaborate with schools on curriculum and learning content while offering graduate recruitment programs, according to Baptist.
Three Richardson colleges offer medical education opportunities: University of Texas at Dallas, Chicago School of Professional Psychology, and West Coast University-Texas. The Chicago School and WCU-Texas both offer a variety of nursing programs, while UT Dallas offers a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree program for healthcare professionals.
The relationship between these schools and local hospitals helps facilitate health care needs, said Tonya Sawyer-McGee, dean of the Chicago School of Nursing.
“We’ve been very fortunate in that many of the institutions where we do our clinical training also hire our graduates,” Sawyer-McGee said. “We are helping to close the gap.”
To address the staffing shortage, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission in January offered hiring bonuses of up to $5,000 for new registered nurses at state-supported living centers and public hospitals. . The commission also provided up to $3,500 to eligible licensed professional nurses and $2,500 to newly hired psychiatric nursing assistants and support professionals.
The bonuses were part of a plan to help recruit qualified nurses and professionals into public hospitals, according to Scott Schalchlin, deputy executive commissioner of the commission’s health and specialty care system.
Answer to need
With more than 1,600 full-time employees, Methodist Richardson officials said it was important to nurture relationships with area schools.
“We’re very attached at the hip,” Hutchenrider said. “We need it to train our future nurses. They also need us to be able to bring in the nurses and learn here.
One of the biggest opportunities for colleges is the ability to provide real-world training in a hands-on environment, said WCU-Texas executive director Amy King. College students completed more than 131,000 clinical hours in 2021 through the school’s partnerships with hospitals and care facilities, she said.
This learning time outside the classroom is a stepping stone to student success, she said.
“These [partnerships] ensure…our clinical partners have the opportunity to hire and identify excellent practitioners for their workforce,” King said.
For hospitals, such as Methodist Richardson, the ability to bring in students often leads to successful hires once they graduate, Hutchenrider said. Over the past three years, Methodist Richardson has hired students from 11 different colleges it has partnered with, including UT-Dallas and WCU-Texas.
Due to the demand for nurses, Sawyer-McGee said higher education institutions with nursing majors are working hard to recruit students.
“The [nursing] The shortage has been a plus for us in helping to market the program,” she said. “We can look for students who are interested in health professions and who know they can follow a program that offers some job security.
Sawyer-McGee said members of the Chicago School’s admissions team work with local high schools and other organizations to find students interested in the field.
Richardson Methodist is also trying to engage high school students through its health sciences partnership with Richardson ISD. The program is designed to give RISD students knowledge and experience in the job market and provide mentors and hospital internships.
Hutchenrider said he’s proud of how the program shows prospective students what to expect if they pursue the field.
“We want to feed that high school pipeline that then continues and stays with health care,” he said. “But we also want to make sure they know what health is.”
Hospitals are also working to retain staff to grow their ongoing workforce, said Kelly Martin, vice president of human resources for Texas Health Resources.
“To retain employees, especially during the difficult times we have experienced in the context of the pandemic, systems must treat employees well. [and] provide career growth opportunities and resources to help take care of their physical and mental health,” Martin said.
Incredible Health is a staffing company that partners with hospitals and health systems to help nurses get hired. It analyzed data from more than 400,000 nurse profiles in its system and surveyed more than 2,500 registered nurses in the United States in February.
The data of the investigation showed that 34% of nurses said they are very likely to quit their job by the end of this year.
Of the nurses surveyed, 44% cited burnout and a very stressful environment as reasons for wanting to leave their jobs.
Methodist Richardson is trying to create a “community” of full-time employees to help with hospital retention, Hutchenrider said. However, staffing shortages in the industry are likely to last, as he said there is no quick fix.
“We are working closely with all nursing schools to encourage them to open as many slots as they can, but it’s still a long process,” Hutchenrider said. “You speak [about] three to four years to get them through the pipeline, and even when they come out, they have to be placed in residence.