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UNT Health Science Center Launches New Nursing College Amid Shortage

Texas ranks last out of the 50 states for access and affordability to healthcare
Photo: New Africa | Shutterstock

In late February, the UNT System Board of Regents approved the establishment of a College of Nursing at The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth to address the nursing shortage in Texas. 

Since the announcement, the leadership at HSC has been dedicated to recruiting, developing courses and undertaking administrative and licensing procedures for the newly established College of Nursing.

According to HSC, students are expected to arrive Fall 2024.

"We still have some regulatory pieces to sort out before we know how many students we can enroll," Senior Communications Specialist Eric Griffey told Local Profile. "We probably won’t know that number for a while."

UNT Health Science Center already has nurses in very prominent positions at the university, including the president. There are also around 40 nurses who already work on campus, many of whom work in the clinic. 

Dr. Cynthia Weston was recently appointed dean of the college. In an interview with KERA, Dr. Weston explained that a surge in population growth fueled the nursing shortage in North Texas.

“Texas currently ranks last out of the 50 states for access and affordability to health care,” Dr. Weston told KERA. “We need nurses to help fill that gap and access to care.”

According to a study published in Nurse Journal, nurses constitute the largest portion of the healthcare workforce. But the nursing profession has been experiencing persistent shortages in recent years due to the growing need for nursing skills and services. In the past two years, around 30,000 qualified applicants have been turned away from nursing programs due to capacity limitations.

“Texas is grappling with a significant nursing shortage,” said Jack Frazee, director of Government Affairs and General Counsel for the Texas Nurses Association. “There is no better way to address this challenge than through education. Nurses are the bedrock of the health care system in the U.S. and around the world. The entire health care ecosystem will benefit from a new school of nursing.”

The new College of Nursing will join five other colleges and schools offering degree programs at HSC: the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine, School of Biomedical Sciences, School of Public Health, School of Health Professions and College of Pharmacy.

But UNT is not the only school expanding its nursing programs. Local Profile previously reported, Galen College of Nursing, an affiliate of Medical City Healthcare, announced a new campus is set to open in Richardson in July 2023.

The 40,000-square-foot school in Richardson will be equipped with state-of-the-art patient simulation labs. These labs will facilitate hands-on learning, enabling students to develop the practical skills needed to become competent nurses upon entering the field.