Florida’s healthcare professional shortage is only getting worse. Could education be the answer?

  • Florida’s nursing shortage has worsened since early 2022. Because of education initiatives and program expansions, world leaders are hoping that investing in nursing education could help make more professionals available to the healthcare industry
  • A survey conducted by the Florida Hospital Association (FHA) found that there is a 25 percent turnover rate for registered nurses in the state
  • Additionally, the FHA projects a deficit of nearly 60,000 nurses by 2035 if mitigation measures are not taken

Despite ongoing efforts to mitigate the severity of Florida’s current acute nursing shortage, hospitals continue to face staff recruitment and retention issues. To lessen the long-term impact, officials at the Florida Medical Association and some Florida universities have launched a series of medical education efforts to provide additional professionals to the state’s medical sector.

The Florida Hospital Association conducted a survey of its member facilities this year and found an alarming 25 percent turnover rate among registered nurses. The FHA projects a deficit of 59,100 nurses in Florida by 2035.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Florida nurse job growth is projected to increase by 21 percent, while 40 percent of nurses will reach retirement age in the next decade.

Should shortages continue to grow amid the state’s booming population, healthcare facilities in the state’s major urban centers could become inconsistent or inaccessible.

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In response, industry leaders have turned to Florida’s nursing students as a possible solution. With a relatively steady annual influx of new students entering such programs, ongoing developments to facilitate and encourage nursing education could be key to lessening the impact of a drastic shortage.

HCA Florida Healthcare announced earlier this year that it is donating $1.5 million to Florida International University’s (FIU) Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing Health Sciences (NWCNHS) through a partnership to expand its faculty and scholarships offer to increase enrollment and promote national nursing shortages.

“HCA Florida Healthcare and FIU have a longstanding relationship and shared commitment to service in South Florida,” he said Chuck Hall, President of the National Group of HCA Healthcare. “We are pleased to announce this partnership with FIU to address nursing shortages by supporting programs that help increase the number of registered nurses who are qualified to teach our nation’s future nurses .”

Additionally, in June, HCA and the University of North Florida partnered to develop a fully interdisciplinary simulation center aimed at providing hands-on training to UNF Brooks College of Health nursing students and helping to meet the growing need for clinically trained healthcare professionals – and to cover nursing professionals.

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Meanwhile, Florida State University expanded its nursing school capacity this fall for the sole reason of expanding the nursing workforce.

In South Florida, where shortages are greatest, the Health Foundation of South Florida is investing $1 million to fund expanded enrollment, scholarships, and other support services for nursing and health science students at Miami Dade College and Broward College.

“We recognize that there are no quick or easy solutions to the nursing and healthcare workforce shortages in our region. But we also believe that the crisis represents an opportunity for us to help pave the way for more people in our community to find good, stable and well-paying jobs,” he said Loreen singing, CEO of the South Florida Health Foundation. “This is important to us because we know it’s impossible to improve the health and well-being of our region without making economic opportunities and mobility more accessible.”

The University of Florida College of Nursing will receive $3.6 million in FY2023 federal grants referred to as Prepping Institutions, Programs, Employers, and Learners through Incentives for Nursing Education.

This recurring annual funding, stylized as PIPELINE, will help the state meet demand for baccalaureate-prepared nurses, nursing practitioners, and nursing academics.

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With the expansion and subsidization of university programs, industry-leading providers have also joined the fray. AdventHealth, one of Florida’s largest providers, announced in August the launch of its three-year accelerated nursing program.

The program is aimed at high school graduates, university changers and career starters. This reorganized bachelor’s degree option is one of several nursing education programs being offered at AdventHealth University to expand the nursing workforce and reduce nursing shortages.

“AdventHealth University is committed to making it easier to pursue a rewarding career as a nurse and providing as many accessible entry points as possible,” she said July Daniels, Dean of Nursing at AdventHealth University. “Our faculty and team are working diligently to implement innovative ways to address the nursing shortage while inspiring and supporting nurses and nursing students.”

A recent study shows that millennials are almost twice as likely to enter the care industry as baby boomers. Hoping that educational programs can benefit from this trend, the Florida Center of Nursing is optimistic about a workforce recovery in 2023 as long as such efforts continue and evolve.

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