The University of North Texas Health Science Center’s new college of nursing will join a handful of existing programs in Tarrant County.
Tarrant County College and the Arlington Career Institute offer programs in vocational nursing. Tarrant County College, Texas Christian University and the University of Texas at Arlington offer programs in professional nursing. TCU, UTA and Texas Wesleyan University offer programs in advanced practice nursing.
“Adding a school of nursing honestly makes sense to me, especially with how fast Texas is growing,” said Serena Bumpus, a registered nurse and CEO of the Texas Nurses Association. “I think it will serve the community very well.”
The Health Science Center’s Feb. 28 announcement comes amid a statewide nursing shortage that’s projected to worsen in the next decade. While the shortage stems partly from demand outpacing supply, the state’s nursing programs also serve as a bottleneck.
In 2021, 41% of qualified applicants — nearly 16,000 people — weren’t admitted, according to a report from the Texas Center for Nursing Workforce Studies. Most programs said they couldn’t find clinical space for all the applicants; others said they didn’t have enough faculty positions or classroom space.
The Health Science Center’s new college will give applicants more options, Bumpus said.
She and her colleagues at the Texas Nurses Association are advocating that the state expand the Nursing Shortage Reduction Program, which helps fund nursing programs across Texas, and widen eligibility criteria for the Nursing Faculty Loan Repayment Assistance Program, which helps cover student loans for nurses who teach in nursing programs.
The Texas Center for Nursing Workforce Studies predicts a deficit of nearly 60,000 registered nurses in Texas by 2032. That number is likely an undercount, Bumpus said. The state’s prediction doesn’t include pandemic-era data.
“Our hospitals have really taken a beating over the last three years with COVID,” she said. “Our (health systems) were challenged before that, too, but COVID really highlighted those issues.”
The Health Science Center’s press release didn’t detail which degrees the new college would offer, nor the timeline for development. The school has already begun a nationwide search for a college dean.
Health Science Center President Sylvia Trent-Adams and Health Science Center Provost Dr. Charles Taylor declined to be interviewed for this story; however, they plan to hold a press conference about the college of nursing soon.
This college is a priority for Trent-Adams, according to the press release. She herself is a nurse.
“The need for an HSC College of Nursing is urgent,” she said in the release. “We have a moral obligation to take bold steps to fill this gap in health care.”
As for Taylor, he’s put together an advisory group of Health Science Center employees with nursing credentials to help shape the development of the college.
“We are committed to producing outstanding nurse leaders who embrace whole-person health, address health disparities, and ensure safe, high-quality care in the communities where we live and work,” he said in the release.
Alexis Allison is the health reporter at the Fort Worth Report. Her position is supported by a grant from Texas Health Resources. Contact her at email@example.com or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.