Texas Panhandle hospitals not experiencing nursing shortage despite national shortfall

Texas Panhandle hospitals not experiencing nursing shortage despite national shortfall
Flags flying high outside Northwest Texas Hospital; Source: KFDA
Residents walking to and from a local hospital; Source: KFDA
Residents walking to and from a local hospital; Source: KFDA
An outside shot of the Amarillo College campus on a spring day; Source: KFDA
An outside shot of the Amarillo College campus on a spring day; Source: KFDA
A shuttle drops students at WTAMU during fall classes; Source: KFDA
A shuttle drops students at WTAMU during fall classes; Source: KFDA

AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - The Texas Panhandle is not experiencing a nursing shortage like statistics show is happening in other counties across the country.

Chief Nursing Officer for Northwest Texas Hospital Douglas Coffey says Northwest is doing fine.

"We're probably kind of middle of the road here in Amarillo I would say. We have openings, we are certainly looking for nurses. But we aren't facing the acute shortages that some areas of the country are."

He believes the hospital's dedication to new programs helps keep new employees committed.

"Structured orientation program and nurse residency program," said Coffey. "So we really want to help them build on their skills from school and help them be successful as they enter the practice of nursing, and progress on to caring for patients independently."

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Local colleges and hospitals work in conjunction to keep employment numbers high.

Educational institutes like Amarillo College and West Texas A&M University are helping to provide applicants for local hospitals as they continually see students interested in the healthcare field.

"We're one of the bigger departments at WT," said Department Head for Nursing Dr. Helen Reyes. "We have a lot of students who want to be nurses. They love nursing, and they want to help people."

Dr. Reyes believes a lack of new applicants can diminish the motivation of current employees.

"You have fewer people, it's harder for those that are there, because they don't have as many people to help with the load," said Dr.Reyes. "It affects them, it affects patient care."

Dr. Reyes says with a small number of healthcare providers, it is not only the employees who suffer.

"Research has shown there are more med errors when there are fewer nurses, when there is a nursing shortage in the hospital," said Dr.Reyes.

Thankfully, the critical nursing field in the Panhandle shows no sign of diminishing.

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