Local colleges are adding to their programming to increase the number of nurses in the community to meet a growing demand in the region.

Earlier this year, Dallas College launched a new Bachelor of Science in Nursing program that will begin training its first batch of students this summer. That coincides with increases in enrollment at Collin College’s associate and bachelor’s nursing degree programs, said Amy Wilson, director of nursing at Collin College.

“Health care facilities in [Dallas-Fort Worth] right now are severely understaffed,” said Georgette Calma, chief nursing officer at Methodist Richardson Medical Center. “It really isn’t just nursing, it’s throughout the hospital. The supply is not there to meet the ever-growing demand.”

What’s happening

As of 2024, there is a shortage of nearly 30,000 registered nurses across the state—a figure that’s expected to increase to more than 57,000 by 2032, according to a Texas Department of State Health Services report.

To help lessen that shortage, Dallas College’s program will begin training 20 future nurses in its bachelor’s degree program this summer. Twenty additional students will begin the program in the fall semester, and another 20 will join in the spring semester. After that, college officials said they plan to increase the number of students in each cohort to around 100.

In addition, Collin College—which has licensed vocational nurse, Associate of Applied Science and Nursing, and Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs—has increased enrollment in its nursing program by 90 students per semester to 120 with plans to continue that growth, Wilson said.

“When we pipeline individuals here locally, ... nurses have the tools with the patients they encounter to foster those long-term relationships,” said Dr. Chiquesha Davis, academic chair of the registered nursing and Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs at Dallas College.

The context

The challenge of training new nurses and placing them in hospitals across the community is multifaceted, Davis said. In addition to issues such as burnout and meeting the demand of a growing population, educational institutions struggle to train new nurses due to a lack of required master’s-prepared nurses to lead their courses.

“In all fairness, education doesn’t pay as well as the hospital pays, so there’s a shortage of people who want to get into education,” Wilson said. “That plays a real role in us being able to put out enough nurses.”

Even when nurses graduate and get to a hospital, Calma said many require additional training before taking on patients due to a portion of many programs being done virtually or with digital simulations that don’t provide the same experience as hands-on training, which both Dallas and Collin colleges include in their programs.

“I definitely prefer hiring local. ... We kind of know the schools around us, and we know the product that they put out,” Calma said. “The more programs we can get grown here, the better.”

What’s next

With the shortage of nurses expected to continue, both Dallas and Collin colleges have plans to increase their programming and the number of nursing students in their pipelines, especially as the population of North Texas is expected to grow from around 8.1 million in 2024 to 10.5 million by 2040, according to the North Central Texas Council of Governments.

In addition to increasing its cohort size from 20 to 100 in the next year, Dallas College officials are looking at creating more partnerships with other institutions to create more pathways and specialities in the nursing profession, Davis said.

Wilson said Collin College officials hope to continue increasing their number of students and work with hospitals to find job placements. She added the college is implementing an expansion plan, which could add more nursing-related programming.