By 2036, the Houston healthcare industry could experience a significant workforce shortage costing the region $18.6 billion in GDP and 111,000 jobs. That is, if an adequate workforce pipeline fails to be developed, per a released report from Center for Houston’s Future (CHF) Houston’s Economic Future: Health Care.
CHF, with the support of HCA Houston Healthcare, spent a year focusing on the story of health and healthcare in the Houston region to develop a comprehensive report that focused on both the economic vitality of the region’s healthcare system and assessed the health of Houston area communities.
According to CHF, the loss in GDP and jobs could be a possibility unless the region’s many hospital systems, stakeholders, and business community collaborate on efforts to support an adequate supply of healthcare workers. In the next decade alone, it’s projected that the overall demand for nurses, physicians, and medical technicians will grow faster than supply, which has been amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic.
At HCA Houston, building a stronger workforce has been a priority for many years. Particularly, the nursing workforce. Research conducted by the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) indicates that there were 3,613 more open positions for registered nurses than workers available to fill them in 2018. Moreover, TWC’s analysis finds that this gap is widening, with the difference between new job openings for registered nurses and workers able to fill those jobs increasing by 1,254 each year.
Investing in the Future of Nursing
As COVID-19 has shown us, nurses are the backbone of our healthcare system. They are the frontline heroes who bridge the gap between patient and physician. With nearly 7,000 registered nurses, HCA Houston is one of the largest employers of nurses in the greater Houston area, with nurses holding positions from bedside caregivers to leadership positions throughout the organization.
HR experts interviewed for the CHF study said partnering with educational institutions is a key strategy for hiring qualified workers and boosting retention rates.
In 2019, HCA Houston began a partnership with the University of Houston (UH) College of Nursing through a $3.5 million donation to benefit faculty, staff, and students.
This investment was a major step toward ensuring Houston maintains its status as a destination for world-class healthcare as it supports the professional development of the next generation of nursing professionals, says Kelli Nations, Chief Nursing Executive at HCA Houston.
Part of this donation funded the HCA Houston Healthcare Simulation Center at the UH College of Nursing in Katy, which provides nursing students with hands-on, real world clinical training and research. The donation also benefitted the HCA Houston Healthcare Endowed Professorship in Undergraduate Studies to fund the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) Director and to expand BSN instruction and research. In addition, a program was initiated that pays the tuition for its eligible nurses to pursue advanced degrees at UH College of Nursing.
But recognizing the importance of nurse educators (the CHF report points out that there is a serious shortage of nursing instructors at the college level), the majority of the donation funded the HCA Houston Healthcare Nursing Faculty Endowment to support the increased number of adjunct or full-time faculty members at HCA-affiliated facilities.
Troy Villarreal, President at HCA Houston, says they were eager to support and be an integral part of UH’s academic trajectory in healthcare. The donation was just the beginning of a long-term collaboration to develop the most qualified healthcare professionals possible and strengthen the nursing workforce.
“This partnership is a continuation of HCA Houston Healthcare’s focus on nurses and nursing excellence, which has resulted in a positive impact on clinical outcomes, patient experience, efficiency of care, and nurse engagement,” he adds.