Office of the Governor Rick Perry

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Nursing Education Efforts


Summary of Achievement

During his time in office, Gov. Perry has focused on increasing the number of students attaining nursing degrees and certificates in order to relieve the state’s nursing shortage.  Texas has implemented several key programs to address this since 2001, including the Professional Nursing Shortage Reduction Program, Nursing Innovation Grant Program and the Center for Nursing Workforce Studies.  The governor also promoted innovative partnerships between academic institutions and hospitals through the establishment of the Hospital-Based Nursing Education Partnership Program to increase the nursing education capacity in Texas.  As a result of these efforts, the number of nursing degrees granted has risen 69.7% from 2001 to 2008 and over $108 million has been appropriated to address this critical need.

The Challenge

Following the recommendations of then Lieutenant Governor Perry’s Special Commission on 21st Century Colleges and Universities, in October of 2000 the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board adopted a strategic plan for higher education, Closing The Gaps by 2015.  One of the plan’s goals is to increase the number of students completing nursing degrees.  According to the Center for Nursing Workforce Studies, Texas will have 27,000 fewer nurses than it needs in 2010.  National reports also cite understaffing of nurses at hospitals as one of the most serious threats to patient safety.

Action / Initiative

Gov. Perry has initiated several measures to combat the nursing shortage in Texas, including:

  • In 2001, the Professional Nursing Shortage Reduction Program was created to increase three things:
    • the number of graduates from professional nursing programs,
    • the percentage of students in professional nursing programs that graduate within a reasonable time, and;
    • the number of graduates from master’s and doctoral programs in nursing that join the faculty of a professional nursing program. 
  • The Nursing Innovation Grant Program was established in 2001 to promote creative ways to educate, recruit, and retain nursing students and faculty.
  • In 2003, the Texas Center for Nursing Workforce Studies (TxCNWS) was established to serve as a resource for data and research about education and employment trends concerning the nursing workforce in Texas.
  • The Governor’s Hospital-Based Nursing Education Partnership Program was established in 2007 to increase the number of nurses in Texas by fostering innovation through partnership models, utilizing existing expertise and infrastructure to expand nursing education.
  • In 2009, Governor Perry enacted House Bill 4471, which provides up-front money to high-performing nursing programs through the Professional Nursing Shortage Reduction Program so that they can hire much-needed faculty.  At the same time, the bill holds nursing programs accountable for producing more nursing graduates and creates a powerful incentive for schools to admit and graduate more nurses.


The Outcome

While many of the nursing initiatives are new and have yet to record measurable outcomes, the following improvements have been documented:

  • Texas nursing schools graduated 7,689 new registered nurses in 2008, a 69.7% increase over the number produced in 2001.
  • The Texas Legislature has provided increasing levels of funding to address the nursing shortage.  For FY2010-2011, the Texas Legislature appropriated $49.7 million to the Professional Nursing Shortage Reduction Program, a $35 million increase over FY2008-09. The budget also appropriated $5 million to the Governor’s Hospital-Based Nursing Education Partnership Grant Program to promote partnerships between academic institutions and hospitals and $4 million in proceeds from the tobacco lawsuit settlement to support innovative nursing education programs through the Nursing Innovation Grant Program.
  • Texas has appropriated over $108 million to address the nursing shortage since 2001.

The number of graduates reported is for the academic year September 1, 2007 through August 31, 2008. Most nursing curricula can be completed in two years following pre-requisite liberal arts and science courses; therefore, it is reasonable to assume that the majority of these graduates enrolled in the professional nursing programs during the 2005-2006 academic year.