Q: Nursing is the nation’s largest health care profession, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. However, many Texas hospitals are facing a shortage of nursing staff. What can hospitals do to both incentivize more people to choose a nursing career and create a positive work environment for their nursing staff?

Memorial Hermann Health System, Houston


Lori Knowles There are a few things hospitals can do to incentivize a nursing career path. We know that through several programs tailored to high school-age teenagers, like our Summer Teen Volunteer Program, which exposes potential future nurses to real-world experiences in clinical areas, we can have a lasting and influential impact on those already leaning toward a nursing career. But it’s really about educating people about the dynamic paths nursing can lead to in health care.

People often think of nursing only as patient-facing, which is certainly a major component of nursing care. While specialty and sub-specialty nursing areas like oncology or neonatology certainly deserve attention and consideration, it is much lesser known that case management, informatics, health administration, legal consultancy, forensics and many other areas of health care can be accessed through nursing as well.

Baylor Scott & White Hillcrest Medical Center, Waco


Becky Hardie As faithful servants on the frontlines of our health care system, nurses shoulder a vital role in our hospitals. It is up to hospital leaders to not only nurture and affirm the nurses on their teams but also to encourage more people to choose nursing as a career.

I believe this starts with “connecting the why” — that means clearly illustrating why nursing is a career worth pursuing. According to a Gallup Poll, nursing has been the most trusted profession for the last 17 years, and the World Health Organization has named 2020 as The Year of The Nurse. Nursing is a rewarding calling of compassion, care and service. Within the hospital setting, nursing offers a variety of career paths, from surgery to the emergency department, geriatrics to NICU or oncology and pediatrics.

Additionally, the advanced practice opportunities, including certified registered nurse anesthetist and various other advanced nurse practitioner specialties, are increasingly needed in Texas. Leadership, education and research positions are excellent opportunities, as well. Then there’s the availability of jobs; nurses have the benefit of knowing they will always be needed to provide or facilitate patient care.

At Baylor Scott & White Hillcrest Medical Center, we have taken a proactive role in recruiting the nurses of the future by visiting local middle and high schools to share with students what it is like to be a nurse and the rewards of nursing as a career. Additionally, we support a program within the Waco Independent School District that enrolls students from several area school districts to become certified nurse assistants with the potential to go straight into a degreed nursing program after they graduate. We also provide tuition reimbursement as one of our benefits to encouraging advancing one’s education and growth. But the work for hospital leaders doesn’t end once nurses are hired. As a hospital, we have recently been awarded the prestigious ANCC Magnet Designation. One of the philosophies that led to earning the designation is to recognize the value of the nurse and nursing’s contribution to patient care and health care. That philosophy prompted us to create processes and structures to give our nursing colleagues a voice in the care of our patients, as well as in governance.

We express our gratitude to our amazing nurses for their sacred work by honoring one nurse each month with the DAISY Award, a national recognition program. This award is given to a nurse, chosen by their peers, who has gone above and beyond in doing what nurses do every day — making an incredible and meaningful difference in the lives of their patients and the patients’ families.

The DAISY Award highlights the heart of nursing, having a career that makes a difference. The impact that nurses have on patient care is immeasurable. What better choice could there be than choosing a career that matters?