Nurse shortage in Florida getting worse

Published: Sep. 30, 2021 at 5:46 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAP NEWS/WCJB) - Florida will face a severe nursing shortage by the year 2035 according to a report by the Florida Hospital Association and Safety Net Hospitals.

The problem is compounded by too few entering the profession and too many leaving.

The report found Florida will be short more than 59,000 nurses by 2035.

The pandemic has made an already bad situation worse.

“We have a crisis today because of what our hospitals, staff have experienced throughout the pandemic, the stress and strain,” said Florida Hospital Association CEO Mary Mayhew.

Over the next 14 years Florida’s population will increase by more than four million.

The fastest growing segment is those over 65.

“That population is the one most likely to use inpatient services, out patient services, emergency room services,” said Justin Senior, CEO of Safety Net Hospitals.

Quality healthcare is a big draw for both people and companies who want to move to Florida.

Ultimately, not having enough nurses could impact the state’s economic and population growth.

The study recommends the state adds at least 4,000 new nurses every year.

There are now more than 18 nursing schools in Florida.

Senior said there are plenty of applicants, but not enough seats or faculty.

“The number of applicants to nursing schools has actually increased, but if the number of seats doesn’t increase, the number of faculty members doesn’t increase, then all you have is more applicants,” said Senior.

Willa Fuller is the Executive Director of the Florida Nurses Association.

“More forms you have to fill out, more things we have to document. And you know, one of the things now is that even satisfaction is measured by a survey,” said Fuller.

The report also found if barriers to health care are lifted, such as expanding Medicaid, the need for nurses could increase by a third, to almost a 100,000.

Recommendations include using Florida’s strengths to recruit, expanding training in non-metro areas and increasing the faculty Senior said is lacking.

The problem is also made worse by nursing staffing companies that hire nurses, then lease them back to hospitals at a premium.

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