Nurses are the keystone to a functioning healthcare system. Across the country, and especially in Texas, nurses are also in short supply. Houston Baptist University, a leading nursing school in Texas, meets this nursing shortage challenge head-on.
Let’s take a step back and look at the big picture within the industry.
The Nursing Shortage in Texas and Across the Country
Nursing is among the fastest-growing industries in the US. Nonetheless, despite accelerating job growth, the nursing deficit continues to expand.
Texas serves as an instructive example of the nation’s nursing shortage challenge. The several factors driving this shortage are job burnout, an aging population, and access to training and education.
If these problems managed to percolate in our society largely unnoticed by most of us in the past, that all changed in 2020 when COVID-19 came calling. The pandemic highlights the importance of nurses and underscores the urgency of addressing the nursing shortage.
Demographics is one of the main systemic drivers of the current nursing shortage in the US. The flower children of the 1960s are fast becoming the retirees of the 2020s. The aging baby-boomer generation is one of the largest demographic shifts in the history of the country.
According to the US Census Bureau, there were 3.1 million Americans over 65 or older in 1900. By 2000 those numbers swelled to 35 million. There are now, as of this writing, 73 million baby boomers.
“As boomers age through their 60s, 70s, 80s and increasingly beyond, the ‘big bulge’ of the boomer generation will contribute to the overall aging of the U.S. population in coming decades,” said Stella Ogunwole, a demographic statistician with the Census Bureau.
A Study of Supply and Demand
The impact of an aging population is two-fold and reflective of supply and demand. As more baby boomers get older, live longer, and require more care, the demand for healthcare services grows. This demand includes nurses in hospitals, clinics, doctors’ offices, and long-term care facilities.
Likewise, more people than ever are reaching retirement age. Census Bureau data shows that approximately 10,000 people reach their 65th birthday in the US every day. Among these newly-minted retirees are, of course, nurses. An article in Dmagazine.com states that 25 percent of the nursing workforce is approaching retirement age.
“In acute care, home health, rehabs, and nursing homes, we have a greater need for nurses because of baby boomers,” says Tamara Eades, president-elect of the Texas Nurses Association in Nurse.com. “In Texas, we have about 420,000 nurses, and the baby boomers born from 1946-1964 make up three-fourths of our working nurses.”
The combination of retiring nurses with a broadly aging population creates a one-two punch of reduced nursing capacity with increasing demand for trained nurses. A Texas Public Radio report suggests a shortfall in Texas of more than 71,000 nurses by 2030.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 175,900 openings for registered nurses every year through the next decade. If there is a shortage of nursing, there is no shortage of nursing jobs.
A Nursing Career in the 21st Century
Our discussion describing the nursing shortage in the United States brings two points into sharp focus:
- Nursing is one of the most stable, in-demand professions in the country.
- We need more skilled nurses to meet growing demand and dwindling supply.
This growing gap between supply and demand highlights another element in this story: education.
Now we can circle back to where we began—a nursing school in Texas.
Houston Baptist University: Training the Next Generation of Nurses
The nursing shortage didn’t arrive unexpectedly. A decade ago, the Institute of Medicine published a landmark research warning of a coming shortage while suggesting advanced nurse training as one core solution.
In the study, the authors argue that the profession needs to “increase the percentage of nurses who attain a bachelor’s degree to 80 percent by 2020 and double the number who pursue doctorates.” The research also calls for nurses to be “fully engaged with other health professionals and assume leadership roles in redesigning care in the United States.”
Houston Baptist University is committed to working toward the goals outlined in the research. Its online RN to BSN and hybrid MSN programs provide working nurses a flexible, focused framework to build on their skills, further their careers, and assume leadership roles in the future of healthcare.
“Today’s nursing shortage will not be resolved by simply returning to the solutions of yesteryear,” says an article in the National Institute of Health. “The strategies to reduce its impact will have to be more creative and focus on the long-term.”
Houston Baptist University, a nursing school in Texas, integrates Christian ethics, science, compassion, and love for nurses and nursing into its curriculum. Passionate about training the next generation of skilled nurses, HBU is in it for the long term.