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Gov. Perry Emphasizes Importance of Nurse Training Programs in Texas

Press Release

Location: Abilene, TX

Gov. Rick Perry today emphasized the importance of nurse training programs in Texas to help meet our state's growing health care demands. The governor presented Hendrick Medical Center with a $175,000 Wagner-Peyser Grant from the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) to create an accelerated bridge program that will allow students with a Licensed Vocational Nursing (LVN) degree to become Registered Nurses (RN) in less than a year.

"Nurses are still in short supply in our state, and this grant represents our latest step in addressing the shortage," Gov. Perry said. "This grant will improve Texans' access to health care by providing an accelerated educational program that allows vocational nurses to become registered nurses."

TTo meet the forecasted demand of RNs in the next decade, Texas must increase the number of nurses graduating as RNs by 50 percent statewide. Through a partnership between Hendrick Medical Center and the Angelo State University School of Nursing, this grant will help address the nursing shortage in Texas by enabling 20 LVNs to quickly earn associate of applied sciences degrees in nursing while meeting all of necessary educational requirements to become an RN.

"We are pleased to be the recipients of the Wagner-Peyser Grant. This funding allows Hendrick Medical Center to continue a strategic initiative with Angelo State University in response to the nursing shortage in West Texas," Hendrick Health System President and CEO Tim Lancaster said. "The grant will provide opportunities for more students with LVN nursing degrees to enter the workforce as RNs."

Wagner-Peyser grants are administered by TWC for work force training projects leading to job placement, increased wages and job retention. Grants may also support exemplary projects delivering work force services in more efficient and innovative ways to groups with special needs. Grants are given to non-profits, universities, community colleges and community based organizations. Companies can indirectly benefit, but do not directly receive grant funds.

Hendrick Medical Center is a non-profit hospital serving Abilene and a 22-county region, offering a full continuum of patient care, including a regional Level III trauma center, regional cancer center, children's hospital and blood blank, among other services.

Since 2001, Texas has implemented several key programs to address the shortage of nurses in the state, including the Professional Nursing Shortage Reduction Program, Nursing Innovation Grant Program and the Center for Nursing Workforce Studies. Gov. Perry has also promoted innovative partnerships between academic institutions and hospitals to increase nursing education capacity in Texas through the establishment of the Hospital-Based Nursing Education Partnership Program. As a result of these efforts, the number of nursing degrees granted has risen 69.7 percent from 2001 to 2008, and more than $108 million has been appropriated to address this critical need. Additionally, last year the governor signed legislation that provides incentives for nursing school programs to enroll and graduate more nurses.

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