Committee to Focus on Strengthening Health Care Workforce

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus created the Select Committee on Health Care Education and Training, which will focus on preparing more Texans for careers in the state's growing health sector. 

Committee members will assess the demand for health professionals across the state. They will also examine ways to better align public schools, as well as colleges and universities, with the needs of health care employers.

"The strength of our health care workforce directly impacts the quality of care that Texans receive," said Speaker Straus (R-San Antonio). "It also matters a great deal to our economy. Too many health jobs are unfilled, while too many Texans are not prepared to succeed in the workforce. The work of this committee will help more Texans prepare for successful careers in a very important field." 

Rep. Susan King (R-Abilene) will chair the committee. 

"As a nurse and a former school board member, Representative King understands the needs of our schools and our health care providers," Speaker Straus said. "I am confident that she and all of the members of this committee will provide valuable leadership as we address this issue in the next legislative session." 

Last year, the legislature approved House Bill 5, which encourages high schools and colleges to work more closely with industry to prepare students for workplace success. The Committee on Health Care Education and Training will continue that legislation's emphasis on workforce readiness. 

Texas faces severe shortages in the health care sector. Of the state's 254 counties, 177 have an all or partial health professional shortage area designation, given this year by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration. And 207 counties are shortage areas for mental health services. Many of the jobs that see persistent shortages do not require four-year college degrees. 

In addition, Texas hospitals experience higher vacancy and turnover rates for nurses than similar states. Such rates are even higher in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Action, Aug. 1, 2014