Central Texas Youth Breathe New Life Into State’s Nursing Industry
Mar 17, 2024

Central Texas Youth Breathe New Life Into State’s Nursing Industry

Reporting Texas TV

ROUND ROCK, Texas – Nearly 60 high school students were selected from across Central Texas to take part in the Nursing Academy at St. David’s School of Nursing last month, a program that aims to inspire prospective students to mitigate an ongoing crisis in the United States healthcare system.

Coming from a family of medical professionals, Natalie Le, a senior at Hendrickson High School in Pflugerville, Texas, said she hopes to follow in their footsteps.

“My aunt is a nurse, she works at Dell Children’s Hospital,” Le said “She is always talking to me about it a lot, and I really have a thing with kids and I enjoy the field.” 

With a shortage of about 30,000 nurses in Texas, according to the State Department of Health Services, the academy facilitated younger generations’ interest in nursing. This February, students rotated through several workshops at Texas State University’s nursing school in Round Rock. They learned how to perform standard medical practices, including how to do a sonogram, check a patient’s heart rate and connect with professionals.

Texas State University in Round Rock is where the nursing academy is located (Tanya Velázquez, Reporting Texas TV).

Le and other students said the academy allowed them to surpass the confines of traditional classrooms.

“You don’t find a lot of things at high school,” she said. “I find you have to go out of your comfort zone and learn more outside of that to actually know what you’re passionate in.”

Getting the opportunity wasn’t easy, said Alyssa Alba, a senior at Manor New Technology High School.

“Once I got the email, I signed up, in hoping that I would come and be accepted here,” Alba said. “Because I heard that there was only a few that would be accepted, and I got in.”

The Healthcare Partnerships at Workforce Solutions partnered with the Texas Healthcare Partnership, representing Baylor Scott & White Health, Ascension Seton and St. David’s HealthCare, to provide students with hands-on experience. The director at Workforce Solutions, Ashely King, said these simulations are essential for prospective nurses.

“The activities that they do, and the different stations that they get to go through really helped to make them see if nursing is the career pathway that is right for them,” King said.

The recent growth of Central Texas cities like Austin might be adding to the issue, she said.

“The way that Austin is growing, I don’t anticipate that it’s going to change much because we do have new hospitals that are coming on [and] all of our current hospitals have expansions,” she said.

King and others said they will continue working to fill the gap.

“The need for nurses is expected to grow 6% in the next 10 years,” King said. “And so it’s really important for these types of events so that we can get students excited about career opportunities in nursing.”

Le said the nursing shortage further motivates her and other students to go into the profession.

“It makes me determined to study harder and spread the word about the nursing program… a lot of my friends are particularly interested in healthcare,” she said.

The Nursing Academy is being hosted bi-annually for the first time in its 10-year history due to a higher volume of applicants. High school juniors and seniors can apply for the upcoming academy this fall.