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TCU Chris WattsChris R. Watts, Marilyn & Morgan Davies Dean of Harris College of Nursing & Health Sciences at TCU, will serve on a new task force to aid in expanding the health care workforce in the state of Texas.

“To help address the healthcare workforce shortage, I am directing the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) to immediately create a task force to provide opportunities and remove barriers that exist to expand health care programs at institutions and provide students with the tools necessary to succeed in this field in Texas,” announced Gov. Greg Abbott in a release from the state.

Watts agreed to serve as the Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas, Inc. (ICUT) representative.

As the fastest-growing state in the nation, Texas must continue expanding its health care workforce to meet the needs of its citizens and build a better future. While the state has invested millions in job training grants for high-demand careers such as nursing, further efforts are needed.

ICUT, a nonprofit association, is the voice for Texas' fully accredited private colleges and universities with a mission of helping policymakers recognize the importance and value of the independent sector of higher education.

Health professionals in Texas are essential for meeting the public health demands. Effective training and education are critical to addressing workforce shortages and improving health care access. Having qualified instructors and ample clinical sites is crucial for preparing future health professionals.

Dean Watts has a keen knowledge of the health education needs of Texas, now and in the future. The State of Texas will reap benefits from his experience and innovative insights as the task force does the important work of examining ways to increase faculty pipelines in health care,” said Floyd L. Wormley Jr., interim provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at TCU.

The Texas Healthcare Workforce Task Force will explore opportunities to reduce shortages in the state’s health care workforce. Specifically, it will investigate the challenges of establishing and maintaining clinical rotation sites and placements and will identify best practices for attracting and retaining qualified clinical instructors.

Members of the task force include institutional representatives as well as other individuals with expertise and industry experience in health care workforce issues.

To effectively consider and research the charge issued by Governor Abbott, the scope has been divided into the following three primary topics for consideration by the task force.

  1. Expanding the Pipeline
  2. Modernizing the Production Model
  3. Bolstering Faculty and Preceptors

Watts has been assigned to Workgroup 3 – Bolstering Faculty and Preceptors, where the group will study and identify the barriers and opportunities to increasing the faculty pipeline and other health professions. In addition, the workgroup will review other innovative models which could be beneficial for increasing the faculty pipeline that will serve the needs of the healthcare system and ensure the health care workforce is reflective of all Texans.

This task force will issue a report by Oct. 1, 2024.