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Now is the time to expand nursing education programs

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Last summer, the Florida Healthcare Association commissioned a report who painted a grim picture, projecting that in 14 years our state will be short of 59,100 nurses, including 37,400 registered nurses (RNs) and 21,700 licensed practical nurses (LPNs).

Over the past two years, each of us has witnessed firsthand how critical our healthcare workers and first responders are to the well-being of the entire state. That is why we stand with our fellow Presidents of the Florida College System (FCS) Council of Presidents – made up of leaders from each of the 28 colleges in the state – to encourage our elected leaders statewide to prioritize funding to provide a sustainable solution for quality nursing care.

Our community and state colleges in Florida are well positioned to provide a long-term solution to fill the systemic nursing void for the state as the most cost-effective and accessible provider of higher education. In 2020-21, Florida College System students completed 17,477 allied health care programs (upper and lower division), compared to 16,556 in 2018-2019.

However, we need a bold five-part solution to address the short- and long-term nursing shortage:

Faculty Recruitment and Retention: Our colleges must be able to recruit and retain qualified faculty by increasing faculty salaries. Additionally, creative lesson planning outside of the 12-hour scheduling model will help nursing professionals in the field teach and provide more options for students.

Patient simulation facilities: To advance high-quality nursing education programs in the state, our institutions need students to learn in the high-tech environment used in today’s healthcare environment. These nursing laboratory learning experiences should include the equipment that will most effectively prepare students for clinics and future employment.

Clinics: In partnership with hospitals and medical facilities, colleges are reinventing clinical experience, structure, and locations to increase program enrollment. Alternative clinical experiences will further help health care providers deal with nursing shortages.

Joint: Effective local articulation of nursing programs from technical colleges to Florida College System institutions and state universities will facilitate access to stackable credentials for citizens of the state. This would allow for a seamless flow, allowing students to pursue whatever degree they desire (e.g., CNA, LPN, RN, BSN, MSN, Doctor of Nursing programs) to meet labor demand .

Public-private partnerships: The private sector will be a key partner in addressing the nursing shortage. Colleges actively engage with medical centers and practices, educational institutions, business leaders and healthcare executives to expand opportunities for nursing programs and increase student enrollment. These public/private partnerships are developed and operated by our colleges across the state.

There’s no denying that the need for healthcare workers has never been greater, as our next generation of nurses, respiratory therapists and first responders will continue to serve as frontline heroes, aiding future disasters and other efforts. of recovery. In order to advance the above, increased and sustained funding from state and private partners is needed. In addition to the funding needed to meet the nursing challenge, the FCS Council of Presidents is committed to supporting the government. Ron DeSantis‘ goal of accelerating Florida to become the No. 1 workforce by 2030. To that end, the FCS Council of Presidents is working with our state’s elected leaders and has asked $60 million to fund the program for this legislative session. The requested funding is just one step toward meeting Florida’s need for healthcare workers and essential workforce programs.

We are committed to meeting the needs of our healthcare workers and, in doing so, to ensuring that the state continues to build the trained healthcare personnel necessary to care for every Floridian.

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dr. Angela Garcia Falconetti is president of Polk State College and chair of the Council of Presidents (COP). dr. Tonjua Williams is president of St. Pete College and chair of the COP Policy and Advocacy Committee. The Council of Presidents proudly provides strategic leadership to ensure that the door to higher education not only remains open, but also leads to a path of completion and meaningful employment, advancing Florida Colleges System priorities and thereby meeting to the needs of the citizens of this State.


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