Rural Nursing Gets a Boost in Texas

Rural NursingAn Abilene nursing school is doing more to assure that residents in rural areas have access to nurses and better healthcare. The Texas Tech Science Center is set to open a new School of Nursing building in Abilene to train new professionals. Rural nurses are responsible for providing critical and life saving services, in addition to standard care, to individuals who live out of the reach of immediate emergency healthcare. Professionals in this occupation develop strong bonds with the community and are often responsible for community health initiatives and at-home visits.

“Officials at Tech said the addition of a new School of Nursing building in Abilene will help address the shortage by making room for more nursing students. Ted Mitchell, president of HSC, said the nursing school in Abilene has existed for many years. He said the new facility will help accommodate growth at that location.

“If you look at the nursing shortage in the state of Texas, particularly in West Texas, the shortage is pretty dramatic,” he said. “The growth of our school is occurring in all our campuses.”

Pearl Merritt, professor and regional dean of the School of Nursing in Abilene and member of the Texas Center for Nursing Workforce Studies, said she expects a significant number of nurses to retire within the next few years.

“The median age of an RN is 46,” she said. “The median age of an LVN is 45. When these nurses begin to retire, we’re going to need more nurses.”

She said the Texas Nursing Association estimates a shortage of about 70,000 nurses by 2020. Mitchell said Tech is trying to address the issue by reaching out to younger groups and trying to spark an interest in the health care field.

“We are going into junior highs all over West Texas and trying to encourage young students there into fields of health care, particularly nursing,” he said.” Read More: School of Nursing in Abilene accommodates more nurses for rural shortage

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