Texas Nursing Schools: 4 Solid Reasons to Become a Nurse in This State
Many aspiring students choose to attend some of the top nursing schools in Texas in order to start preparing for one of the strongest career fields in the state. Texas employs some of the highest levels of nurses in the country. In fact, the Lone Star State ranks first for the highest employment of licensed vocational nurses (LVNs), second for registered nurses (RNs) and nurse anesthetists, and fourth for nursing assistants and nurse practitioners.1
Even though the state employs some of the largest numbers of nurses across the nation, it is still expecting a huge shortage among all levels of nursing professionals, from assistants to advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). So when you become a nurse in Texas, you are preparing for an occupational field that offers several exciting opportunities and benefits.
Just think about it. You could have a career that leaves you feeling satisfied because you have the opportunity to make a difference in people's lives. And in doing so, you could enjoy excellent job opportunities along with significant earning and advancement potential. It's almost as if nursing programs in Texas can start preparing you for an occupation that offers it all. So keep reading to discover why pursuing a nursing education could be the answer to your career dreams!
1. High-Quality Nursing Programs Offered Across the State
When you are looking into your options for getting a nursing education, you may be surprised by the amount of choices you have that can help you start out in the field. You could opt to quickly earn a certificate in one year or less, or you could go all-in and earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree over the course of three or four years. Here are three of the more common nursing programs that many potential students consider:
- Nurse Assistant—These programs usually result in a certificate or diploma, take anywhere from a few months to less than two years to complete, and can prepare you for careers like nurse assistant, nurse aide, and patient care technician. You will likely learn how to assist nurses with carrying out daily tasks such as providing basic patient care, managing supplies, ensuring that safety and hygiene practices are being met, monitoring vital signs, and offering other support services as needed. Many of these programs can prepare you to achieve certifications like Certified Nurse Aide/Assistant (CNA) through the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) and Certified Patient Care Technician/Assistant (CPCT/A) through the National Healthcareer Association (NHA). Some programs also include EKG and phlebotomy training that can help you achieve additional industry certifications.
- Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN)—Most LVN programs award a certificate or diploma, but you may also find associate degree programs. These can take anywhere from one to two years to complete and typically prepare you to pass the state's licensing exam, which is administered through the Texas Board of Nursing. You could be prepared to work under the supervision of a registered nurse or other medical professional and take care of tasks like recording patient data, managing charts, providing bedside care, administering medication, and educating patients.
- Registered Nurse (RN)—An RN program will usually award an associate or bachelor's degree and can prepare you to achieve your licensing through the Texas Board of Nursing. You could be ready to join a healthcare team in which you are responsible for planning, coordinating, and providing high-quality patient care as well as offering advice and support and educating patients and the public about important health matters. You may also observe patients, consult with doctors and other members of the care team, operate medical equipment, and assist with diagnostic testing.
In addition to the programs discussed above, you may also come across LVN-to-BSN or RN-to-BSN programs. These options are designed for currently practicing LVNs or RNs that have associate degrees and want to upgrade their education to achieve Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees.
2. Extraordinary Job Opportunities
Texas is in the midst of a major nursing shortage across the whole state. The shortage is especially apparent in northern Texas cities like Dallas and Fort Worth. In these areas, the nursing shortage is so severe that some nurses have reported that it is the worst that they have seen in over 30 years of working in the industry. And long-term employment projections back up these claims. Just take a look at the projected growth rate of some of the key nursing occupations, along with the average number of yearly job openings, for the 2012-to-2022 period:2
- Nursing assistants—28.2 percent / 4,105 jobs annually
- Licensed vocational nurses (LVNs)—27.6 percent / 3,735 jobs annually
- Registered nurses (RNs)—28.2 percent / 9,020 jobs annually
- Nurse anesthetists—32.6 percent / 160 jobs annually
- Nurse midwives—35 percent / 10 jobs annually
- Nurse practitioners—40.5 percent / 395 jobs annually
As you can see, incredible amounts of jobs are expected to open up in the coming years at almost every level of nursing. So you may be wondering what exactly is driving this shortage. The answer is multi-faceted. Several factors are contributing to the growing demand for nursing professionals. They include the following:
- Texas has both a growing and aging population. The state's population has been booming over recent years, which means that there are more people requiring healthcare services. Just consider these facts:3
- Texas has the second-largest population in the U.S. And from 2006 to 2014, the state had the highest overall population growth in the nation.
- From 2000 to 2014, the population under the age of 18 grew by almost 21 percent. And the population aged 18 to 64 grew by almost 30 percent.
- Texas also had the second-highest growth rate in the nation of elderly individuals from 2000 to 2014. And it has the third-largest elderly population in the country.
- Texas has been seeing an increase in the rate of chronic diseases. This issue is currently affecting the entire nation, so the problem is not unique to Texas. But here is a quick rundown of some of the key medical problems that Texans are experiencing that are contributing to an increased demand for healthcare services:4
- As of 2012, chronic diseases make up the leading causes of death in the state. Heart disease and cancer are the most prevalent, followed by respiratory diseases and strokes.
- Less than 30 percent of children in grades three through 12 are achieving a healthy level of fitness.
- Thirty percent of adults and 16 percent of high school students are obese. Since the 1980s, obesity rates among adults have doubled, and among children, rates have tripled.
- A large number of nurses are reaching retirement age. In 2013, more than 34 percent of LVNs, 41 percent of RNs, and 40.5 percent of APRNs were over the age of 50.3 This means that, by 2030, more than two-thirds of the nursing workforce will likely be retiring.
- The implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has created greater accessibility to healthcare. As of 2015, the uninsured rate in Texas was 16.8 percent. This is down from 19.4 percent in 2014 and 20.6 percent in 2013.5 As more people continue to obtain healthcare coverage, a subsequent demand for medical services is expected.
- The state is seeing a growth of patient-centered medical homes and nurse-managed health centers. These types of facilities are found to be more cost-effective and offer a higher level of care than their more traditional counterparts. And patient-centered and nurse-managed facilities rely heavily on nursing professionals in order to operate as intended.
All of these factors are contributing to a critical nursing shortage. And this is making the job market more opportune for nurses as employers compete to recruit trained professionals. Many employers are upping the ante by offering amazing incentives and bonuses. For example, check out some of the benefits offered by the Plaza Medical Center of Fort Worth:
- Employees can receive a $2,500 bonus for referring a qualified nurse.6
- New nurses are being offered signing bonuses ranging from $3,000 to $10,000.6
- New nurses can have their tuition reimbursed.6
- Current employees can participate in an in-house program that pays for them to receive their nursing degree.6
- Employees can also take advantage of numerous other benefits, which include 401(k) plans, medical and dental coverage, paid time off, extended illness coverage, life insurance, and long-term disability insurance.7
3. Excellent Earning Potential
When determining the average nurse salary in Texas, you will want to consider three key occupations: registered nurses (RNs), licensed vocational nurses (LVNs), and nursing assistants. The majority of nursing professionals in the state fall into one of these vocational areas. By checking out the annual average and top-end pay—as of 2015—for each occupation below, you'll see that there is potential to earn a great nursing salary in Texas.1
- Registered nurse—$69,890 / $94,950 or more
- Licensed vocational nurse—$45,130 / $60,360 or more
- Nursing assistant (includes nursing aide and patient care technician)—$24,550 / $32,340 or more
4. Promising Advancement Opportunities
The field of nursing is one that offers excellent opportunities for career progression. A lot of people choose to progress from nursing assistant to LVN to RN positions. But when you become an RN, you haven't necessarily reached the top of the career ladder. At that point, you can continue your education in order to become an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN). And in doing so, you could find yourself taking on one of these positions:
- Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)—Take on a role in which you offer primary healthcare services to expectant and new mothers, as well as to newborn babies. By becoming an RN and completing an accredited midwifery program, you can become certified by the American College of Nurse Midwives (ACNM). Achieving this certification authorizes you to offer prenatal and postpartum care in a variety of medical settings, as well as to deliver babies in hospitals. CNMs in Texas earn an annual salary of $98,050, on average, and the top earners make $135,010 or higher.1
- Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)—Assume a critical role in the field of anesthesia in which you are responsible for preparing and evaluating anesthesia patients, administering anesthesia, and providing post-anesthesia care. Along with achieving your RN designation and completing an accredited CRNA program, you will need at least one year's experience working in an acute care setting prior to taking the national certification exam. CRNAs earn an average annual salary of $147,570, and the highest earners make $187,200 or more.1
- Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)—Develop your expertise with a specific patient population or in a specialized area of nursing in order to offer high-quality direct patient care. Along with developing and implementing patient care plans, you could also have a hand in helping to shape nursing and healthcare policy. You must complete an accredited graduate program within your chosen specialty and obtain clinical hours in order to become a certified CNS through the state's board of nursing. Clinical nurse specialists are included in the RN occupational category, so specific wage data is not available. However, it is likely that a CNS can expect to earn more than the average RN salary due to having a higher level of education and experience. Nationally, clinical nurse specialists earn a median yearly salary of $81,952, according to 2016 data.8
- Nurse Practitioner (NP)—Provide advanced healthcare services that are more in line with those of a doctor than an RN. Considered one of the top positions within the nursing field, a nurse practitioner can evaluate, diagnose, and treat patients, as well as prescribe medications. You will need to complete an accredited graduate program in a specialty area like family, geriatric, or pediatric care. And prior to applying for your license, you will have to complete a set amount of hours of practice within your specialty area. NPs in Texas earn $105,220 a year, on average, and the top earners make $147,900 or higher.1
In addition to advanced practice certifications, you could also pursue teaching opportunities. Since nursing instructors are made up of a similar demographic to that of the nursing workforce, many instructors are also nearing retirement. In fact, nursing instructor positions are expected to grow in number by 41.6 percent between 2012 and 2022. That amounts to an average of 230 positions opening up every year.2 Nursing instructors in Texas earn an annual average salary of $64,800, and the highest earners make $93,230 or more.1
Open Yourself Up to a World Full of Exciting Opportunities
If you are feeling excited about expanding your career potential, then act on that feeling today. Find out which nursing schools in Texas are offering programs near you by entering your zip code below. Prepare to brighten your future in ways that you have never imagined!
1 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, website last visited on June 21, 2016.
2 Texas Workforce Commission, Labor Market and Career Information Department (LMCI), Texas Long-Term Occupation Projections, website last visited on June 21, 2016.
3 Texas Demographic Center, Aging in Texas: Introduction, website last visited on June 21, 2016.
4 Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), website last visited on June 21, 2016.
5 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Health Interview Survey Early Release Program, Health Insurance Coverage: Early Release of Estimates From the National Health Interview Survey, 2015, website last visited on December 13, 2016.
6 NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth (NBC DFW), "Some North Texas Hospitals Face Nurse Shortage," website last visited on June 21, 2016.
7 Medical City Fort Worth, Benefits, website last visited on January 5, 2017.
8 PayScale, website last visited on June 21, 2016.