Community Rallies for Health Care Despite Economic Hardships

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As the need for nurses increases, a $13 million gift will expand nursing education in Texas.

Abilene School of Nursing Regional Dean Pearl Merritt and Nursing Students

Our community recognizes that quality health care is contingent upon quality education and training for future nurses.

As Texas' rapidly growing population ages and the need for care increases, there is a greater demand for nurses. The Texas Tech University System Board of Regents has addressed this challenge by approving gifts totaling $13 million from the Abilene community to develop a new nursing facility at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) campus in Abilene.

The university has secured enough funding to begin construction on the new TTUHSC School of Nursing building but will continue to raise additional funding for the completion of this project. Hendrick Health System will help construct the facility, which will attach to the existing School of Pharmacy building in Abilene, and then donate the nursing building to TTUHSC.

“Our community recognizes that quality health care is contingent upon quality education and training for our future nurses,” said Tim Lancaster, president and CEO of Hendrick Health System. “Our continued partnership with the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center has been instrumental in attracting some of the best nursing candidates in the field, and hopefully keeping them in Abilene.”

In 2009, Texas faced a shortage of an estimated 20,000 nurses. The Texas Center for Nursing Workforce Studies estimates that with strategies already in place, Texas will be short 71,000 nurses by 2020.

President Tedd L. Mitchell, M.D., and Texas Tech University System Chancellor Kent Hance praised Abilene for its generosity, which will enhance educational opportunities for future generations and improve health care in Texas and across the nation.

“This gift from the Abilene community and our partnership with Hendrick Health System will ensure the ongoing availability of outstanding nursing education to students and will enhance the already high quality of health care offered to Abilene residents,” Mitchell said.

“We are very grateful to the Abilene community for this generous gift and their continued support over the years,” Hance said. “Our relationship with Abilene has always been valuable, and I want to thank the city’s forward-thinking leaders who have helped create a long-lasting impact.”

In March 2008, the TTUHSC School of Nursing partnered with Hendrick Health System to establish a Web-based second-degree nursing program in Abilene. Students gain clinical experience at Hendrick Medical Center and in local community-based agencies and clinics. The school expanded its traditional bachelor of science in nursing program to Abilene in May 2009.

“This new facility will enable the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Nursing at Abilene to grow to its full potential, thus helping to alleviate the state’s nursing shortage,” said Pearl Merritt, Ed.D., R.N., regional dean of the TTUHSC School of Nursing in Abilene.

There are currently 56 students enrolled in the TTUHSC School of Nursing in Abilene. It is anticipated that the school will have an enrollment of an additional 104 students by 2015. Other programs available to Abilene and area residents are the online RN to BSN program and various graduate programs.


TTUHSC's dedication to education, patient care and research has made an impact on the health of West Texas and beyond for almost 40 years. To date, TTUHSC has trained more than 10,000 health care professionals, and meets the health care needs of more than 2.5 million people who live throughout a vast 108-county are stretching from the Texas Panhandle south to the Permian Basin and west into Eastern New Mexico.

Beginning in 1969 as the Texas Tech University School of Medicine, today TTUHSC is a six-school university located in Abilene, Amarillo, Dallas/Fort Worth, El Paso, Highland Lakes, Lubbock, Midland and Odessa.

TTUHSC strives to be an institution that advances knowledge for students and practicing health care professionals through educational opportunities and research while providing quality patient care and service.


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