February 7, 2005
The vacancy rate for registered nurses in Texas hospitals has steadily decreased over the last four years, but Texas hospitals continue to face challenges filling nurse positions and retaining nursing staff.
According to a Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) survey, the vacancy rate averaged 8.6 percent for 163 participating hospitals in 2004, down from 11 percent reported by the Texas Hospital Association for 2003.
Vacancy rates are based on the percentage of unfilled positions during a specified time period. If the average vacancy rate of 8.6 percent were applied to all 537 Texas hospitals, an estimated 7,100 RN positions would have been unfilled in February 2004.
Statewide turnover rates, reported for the first time in Texas, averaged 15.6 percent for the 163 hospitals that responded to the survey. Turnover measures the rate at which nurses leave a hospital. Vacancy and turnover rates vary by Texas regions. The metropolitan border region had the highest vacancy rate, while the rural non-border regions showed the highest turnover rate.
The findings are included in a report released by the DSHS Nursing Workforce Data Section: “Hospital Nursing in Texas – Findings of the Registered Nurse Hospital Staffing Survey 2004.” The report provides RN and licensed vocational nurse vacancy and turnover rates by geographic region, hospital employer ratings on the severity of the nurse shortage and information about recruitment and retention methods used by some Texas hospitals.
The report is available online at www.tdh.state.tx.us/chs/nwds/Ncoverpg.htm .
(News media: for more information contact Aileen Kishi, PhD, RN, DSHS Center for Health Statistics, 512-458-7261; or Emily Palmer, DSHS Assistant Press Officer, 512-458-7400.)