AUSTIN, Texas — As the demand for nurses continues to rise in Central Texas, Concordia University Texas hopes to help bring more to the workforce.
The university opened a new, state-of-the-art, 17,000-square-foot nursing satellite campus this past fall. The $1 million project, located on U.S. Highway 183 in the Echelon buildings in northwest Austin, are equipped with simulation labs, a 10-bed clinical skills lab and simulation debriefing rooms.
Senior nursing student Christina Gallini said the campus has been instrumental in helping her prepare for the real world.
"You learn so much you didn't even realize you would have questions about when you are in these simulations," Gallini said.
As Central Texas feels the urgency for more nurses amid the pandemic, this facility could not have come soon enough. Texas ranks second only to California among states hardest hit by the nursing shortage, according to the National Center for Health Workforce Analysis.
As the population continues to grow and "baby boomer" nurses retire, Dr. Amber Shammas, senior director of the university's college of health sciences, predicts Central Texas will need approximately 2,600 nurses by 2022.
“And, that number is expected to grow to 7,459 full-time equivalent positions in the next 10 years,” said Shammas.
Despite Gov. Greg Abbott’s waiver allowing retired nurses, those with inactive licenses and certain students in their final year of nursing school to practice medicine, more nurses are needed.
Shammas explained high-end and efficient training is important to ensure nurses are equipped despite the workforce shortfalls. Just as people had to adjust to the pandemic, so did nursing programs.
The new facility had to undergo extensive transformations in recent months to accommodate the nurses' needs and safety, including turning much of its space into socially distanced areas for nurses to practice, as well as adjusting the curriculum to include treating COVID-19.
"It has been interesting. There are a lot of different protocols. Fewer students at one time," Gallini said.
The Austin community and prospective students can get a tour of this state-of-the-art teaching facility at a virtual grand opening on Tuesday, Feb. 9, at 7 p.m. To attend, visit the event page on Facebook or on Concordia University Texas’ YouTube channel.
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