Illustration by Chi Birmingham

Critical Care

Exponential increase in graduates helps fill growing demand for nurses

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When Alitha Jones arrives for work each day at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, she joins almost 15,000 UT Arlington nursing graduates who provide comprehensive health care for residents of North Texas and beyond.

As a nursing informatics specialist, Jones ’09 develops medical technology systems and teaches nurses how to use them. She is also a part-time critical care nurse at UT Southwestern Medical Center’s St. Paul University and Zale Lipshy hospitals, where she focuses on adult and elderly patients.

“We are committed to providing graduates to meet the growing needs of the Metroplex and beyond.”

Caring for patients is what I love most,” says Jones, president of UT Arlington’s Nursing Alumni Council. “If I can make one patient smile or get one family member to open up and let me know their fears, that’s what being a nurse is all about.”

The Texas Center for Nursing Workforce Studies estimates that half of the state’s 73,000 registered nurses will retire in the next decade. Nationally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the registered nurse category will top the job growth list through 2020. The number of employed nurses nationwide is expected to jump from 2.74 million in 2010 to 3.45 million in 2020, a 26 percent increase.

UT Arlington is doing its part to meet the demand. Enrollment in the College of Nursing has quadrupled in recent years. With nearly 8,000 students last spring, the college is one of the five largest public nursing programs in the nation.

Jennifer Gray, the College of Nursing’s interim dean and a UT Arlington alumna, says the University is committed not just to enrolling more students but preparing nurses to be leaders. Last year the college conferred almost 1,700 bachelor’s degrees, more than five times the number in 2007-08. Master’s degree graduates have more than doubled during the same period.

We are dedicated to decreasing the nursing shortage by graduating increased numbers of BSN-prepared nurses who will become RNs, and to fulfilling the educational needs of working nurses at the undergraduate and graduate levels,” says Dr. Gray, who holds the George W. and Hazel M. Jay Professorship in Nursing. “We offer a full array of academic programs and emphasize evidence-based practice so the community receives quality nursing care in a rapidly changing health care system. We are committed to providing graduates to meet the growing needs of the Metroplex and beyond.”

Alitha Jones is among thousands of examples.

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