Central Austin Edition - September 2021

Supply Demand and registered nurses

50K

19.8%

18.3%

The Texas Center for Nursing Workforce Studies projects the gap between the supply of qualied registered nurses in Central Texas and the need for them will continue to grow through 2032.

17%

40K

15.4% 16%

14.9%

15.3% 14.8%

30K

20K

Demand unmet

Projected demand

Projected supply

0

SOURCES: TEXAS CENTER FOR NURSING WORKFORCE STUDIES, TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF STATE HEALTH SERVICESCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

2020 2022

2024

2026 2028 2030 2032

2018

and other experts said. Selena Xie, a surgical ICU nurse for Dell Seton Medical Center and Presi- dent of the Austin EMS Association, said the pandemic “decimated our ranks,” and estimated that around 50% of her colleagues who have resigned accepted jobs as travel nurses. “Wherever COVID[-19] is hardest hit, they’re oering them really big bonuses to go and work there for like two months,” Xie said. This summer and fall, Texas has been one of those hardest-hit areas. Gov. Greg Abbott announced Aug. 19 that he would contract with stang agencies to deploy supplemental sta to hospitals across the state. To avoid Texas nurses leaving their current posi- tions in favor of more lucrative travel- ing contracts—a phenomenon that was common earlier in the pandemic, Zol- nierek said—Abbott required the state- funded supplemental sta to come from outside of Texas, as seen in job postings from state-contracted stang agencies such as Krucial Stang. Nurses deployed to Texas with Kru- cial earn a base salary of $125 an hour, outstripping the median pay for RNs in the Austin-Round Rock area, which sits under $35 an hour, according to the Texas Workforce Commission. Travel nursing positions in other states, including Florida, remain plentiful. In order to compete, all of Austin’s major hospital systems cur- rently oer bonuses to new ICU nurs- ing hires. However,

Xie said Austin employers need to match the pay scale present in other Texas cities: Dallas RNs make nearly $37 an hour, and Houston nurses make around $40 hourly. “Even before the pandemic, we would have a lot of people leave for Houston or Dallas,” she said. Education bottleneck Also contributing to Austin’s nurs- ing shortage is a lack of supply at the entry level. Local registered nursing programs have a waiting list of quali- ed applicants every year, but lack the space, faculty and resources to accom- modate them, said Leigh Goldstein, a nursing professor at the University of Texas at Austin. “I believe there are a lot of people who would go to nursing school if they had the opportunity to get in,”Goldstein told Community Impact Newspaper . “[It] really puts a chokehold on things if you don’t have enough faculty.” As of 2019, only 1.2% of Texas nurses were qualied to teach, holding a doc- toral-level degree in nursing. However, nurses in that pool often choose to work as a nurse practitioner—typically a better paying role, Zolnierek said. Austin also has limited clinical space to share among nursing programs, Goldstein said, which in Travis County include Austin Community College, UT, Concordia University Texas and others. Over the past two decades, Texas has sought to increase the number of nurses in the state through its Nursing Shortage Reduction Program, which provides grants to nursing education

Pay DISPARITY

The median pay for registered nurses in the Austin- Round Rock metropolitan area is lower than for all other major metropolitan areas in Texas and for the state. Nurses cite this disparity as a major reason for leaving their roles at Austin hospitals.

MEDIANPAY BYMETROPOLITANAREA Statewide

$36.21 per hour

$75,323

Austin-Round Rock

$34.91 per hour

$72,617

Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington

$36.88 per hour

$76,703

Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land

$40.49 per hour

$84,219

San Antonio-New Braunfels

$35.72 per hour

$74,292

SOURCE: TEXAS WORKFORCE COMMISSIONCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

programs to help boost enrollment and graduation rates. Since its inception the program has succeeded in growing the nursing workforce; the number of active RNs has grown by nearly 43% since 2010 from 176,251 to 251,253. Yet supply remains below demand. Throughout Central Texas, the Texas Department of State Health Services projects 31,608 RN positions are needed in 2021, with 26,935 nurses available, a shortfall of 14.8%. Graduates step up For students graduating from nurs- ing programs this year, pandemic conditions are an expected reality. Amarachi Amaikwu, a 2021 graduate of ACC’s RN program, will soon to begin work for St. David’s HealthCare in October. She began her program in August 2020 with COVID-19 in full swing, taking most classes online. She and her classmates called their expe- rience “pandemic university.” “I denitely empathize with those who have left the eld,” Amaikwu

said. “However, I’m excited to jump in and help where I can as the pandemic continues.” Nursing faculty have also adjusted their instruction over the past year and a half to prepare students for the environment they will enter, Goldstein said. That includes teach- ing students how to handle personal protective equipment in high-risk sit- uations as well as the importance of practicing self care to avoid burnout. However, with hospitals still strapped for sta, one nursing student said she is bracing for exhaustion. “I’ve kind of mentally prepared myself to know that I may have moments where I’m like, ‘This is really a lot. What am I going to do?’” said Camille Batts, a UT nursing stu- dent who will graduate in December. “Nothing’s really going to prepare us for truly going into the pandemic.”

to retain nurses in the long run,

“I definitely empathize with those who have left the field. ... However, I’m excited to jump in and help where I can as the pandemic continues.” AMARACHI AMAIKWU, RECENT ACC GRADUATE AND RN

For more information, visit communityimpact.com .

COURTESY AUSTIN COMMUNITY COLLEGE

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CENTRAL AUSTIN EDITION • SEPTEMBER 2021

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