Over 50 students from nine local school districts attended Workforce Solutions Capital Area’s biannual Nursing Academy on Feb. 21 for a day of interactive learning in Texas State University Round Rock’s five nursing simulation labs.

About the program

The academy is put on twice a year through WSCA’s Central Texas Healthcare Partnership, which consists of Baylor Scott & White, Ascension Seton and St. David’s HealthCare.

Following a Q&A session with local nursing students, 56 juniors and seniors from nine area school districts—including Austin, Georgetown, Hays, Leander, Pflugerville and Round Rock ISDs—practiced a variety of nursing skills in the on-campus simulation lab, including:
  • Ultrasounds
  • Heartbeat and lung sounds
  • Choking
  • CPR
  • A “what’s wrong with this room” simulation to identify health hazards
“There’s so much negative publicity in the news about nursing,” said Ashley King, WSCA director of health care partnerships. “We’re really trying to give a positive spin to a really great career opportunity and all of the different career options that they have—the different pathways, the different tracks that they could do.”

The academy is only able to accept a limited number of students due to simulation space, King said, and a rubric is used to score students on their application, which includes questions and an essay to gauge their interest in the field and future career plans.

“[The nursing shortage] is definitely one of my motivations. Without health care, people would be struggling,” said Lexi Espinoza, a senior at Hendrickson High School in Pflugerville. “[This simulation] is helping me try to figure out what I want to branch off into.”

Diving in deeper

According to a September 2022 report by Texas Health and Human Services, there was an 11.8% unmet demand for nurses projected in 2023, or 33,340 nurses.

That rate is projected to steadily increase, and in 2030, expected to reach 15%, or a shortage of just under 50,000 nurses.

As the Nursing Academy aims to get students into nursing programs, King said that opportunities within the local workforce are growing. Dell Children’s Medical Center recently expanded its neonatal intensive care unit and built a new hospital, and Texas Children’s Hospital opened its North Austin campus this month.

“[Health care] is one of our key industry sector partnerships that [WSCA] is trying to increase employment in,” King said. “... We already have a nursing shortage, so the more students that we can get into nursing and interested in just helps bridge that gap we have in employment.”

Looking ahead

The next Nursing Academy will be held in September at Galen College of Nursing.