With direction from Governor Greg Abbott, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s Commissioner Keller will create a new task force to address healthcare workforce shortages. A report to the governor is due by Oct. 1.

In his letter to THECB Commissioner Keller directing creation of the task force, the governor specifically requested that the task force investigate “challenges to establishing and maintaining sufficient clinical rotation sites and clinical placements and identify best practices to attract and retain qualified clinical instructors.”

“An insufficient number of clinical education opportunities and nursing faculty are the primary obstacles to growing the state’s nursing workforce,” said Maureen Milligan, PhD, president and CEO, Teaching Hospitals of Texas. “The nursing shortage is not due to lack of interest among students. In fact, applications to nursing school have grown steadily since 2013, reaching nearly 39,000 in 2022. But, due to limitations in clinical education capacity and resources, qualified applicants are being turned away.”

Nearly 36 percent of qualified applicants were not offered admission to a nursing program in 2022, according to the Texas Center for Nursing Workforce Studies. More than 72 percent of programs turning away applicants cited lack of clinical space as the most or second most important factor in that decision. More than 57 percent also cited lack of applicants for budgeted faculty positions.

Texas faces a projected shortage of 12,572 licensed vocational nurses and 57,012 registered nurses by 2032.

As the primary state association for teaching hospitals and public hospitals, THOT continues to develop strategies to grow the nurse workforce and looks forward to participating in the Texas strategy under Commissioner Keller’s leadership. THOT advocacy includes key components of clinical capacity (funding for preceptor pay differentials at clinical sites to increase the number of preceptors, funding for clinical nurse faculty grant programs, and funding of grants to support innovations in nursing education, training and retention) as included in Senate Bill 25, 87th Legislature, Regular Session.

“We applaud the governor for directing creation of the task force under Commissioner Keller’s leadership to seek comprehensive strategies for Texas’ healthcare workforce training – and acknowledging the essential role of clinical training,” added Milligan.