Southern Texas Consortium Identifies and Prepares for Region's Nursing Needs

From 1996 to 1999, researchers at Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi oversaw a consortium of health care interests in a 15-county region of southern Texas that developed a predictive model to identify the area's future nursing care needs and helped initiate improvements in the region's nursing education system, including an online nursing curriculum.

The project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's (RWJF) national program Colleagues in Caring: Regional Collaboratives for Nursing Work Force Development.

Licensure-based data from the state Board of Nurse Examiners provided information on the region's active nursing workforce. Combining these various data with Geographic Information System (GIS) technology, consortium personnel developed predictive health-risk GIS models that could project future health care trends and nursing needs in the region.

Key Results

  • The project demonstrated that a GIS predictive model can effectively "map" health risk data in an area. However, project leaders reported that the required expertise made the model too cumbersome for widespread use and that additional funding to refine the system was necessary.

  • The project helped establish an online nursing curriculum to increase the opportunity of the region's residents—especially those living far from a campus—to earn a nursing degree.

  • Development of camera- and computer-equipped classrooms at Victoria College and Texas A&M University-Corpus Christie permit an instructor on one campus to reach nursing students on the other.

  • The project helped create an organization of nurse administrators and nurse educators—the Corpus Christi Organization of Nurse Executives—that is working to establish clearly differentiated levels of nursing competencies and corresponding compensation.