Nursing Shortage in Florida is Growing: Universities in the State are Working on Creative Solutions
By Space Coast Daily // December 11, 2019
Shortage of medical staff is not just a problem that’s specific to the state of Florida, but pretty much the entire world is facing a severe shortage in available medical personnel.
Nurses, in particular, are in short supply all across the nation, and it has been so for years now. If the reports from NCBI are to be taken into account, then the deficit might reach alarming numbers (1.1 million) by 2022.
The Effect on Florida: A Look at the Recent Past
Both the local population and the entire healthcare sector in Florida is experiencing a lot of difficulties due to the shortage, which is to be expected since the state currently has the largest senior population among all US states.
The problem became more apparent in 2017, when stats clearly showed that, in spite of the state’s best efforts to train more nurses and meet the crisis, a huge nursing shortage was not only still present, but it had doubled to 12,000+ compared to a vacancy of roughly 6,000 in 2009.
The report was indicative of the fact that more creative measures were needed to fill the number of empty slots, which continues to grow unchecked.
Strangely enough, in spite of the tremendous career opportunities that can be had by pursuing a career in nursing, the sector just does not seem to have enough students to meet the growing demands. Much of that has to do with the availability of seats in nursing schools as well as a lack of slots for necessary clinic hours, which a nursing student needs to qualify as a registered nurse.
Taking a Cue from Australia
Alongside the United States, Australia is one of the other nations to be particularly shorthanded on nursing professionals. If the estimates are correct, then the entire country will be facing a nursing shortage of roughly 85,000 by the time 2025 rolls around.
However, the way in which Australia is preparing to combat their nursing shortage, through online education programs, advanced training courses for the present working force, and ample scholarship opportunities to encourage more students towards a prospective nursing career, is definitely inspiring.
Some of those same strategies are already being used in California, Florida, Texas, New Jersey, and several other states that are among the worst affected by the nursing shortage, but they need to be adopted more vehemently and with greater stress on state-funded scholarship programs.
The Predictions for Florida Doesn’t Look Promising
According to estimates made public by the Florida Centre for Nursing, there will be a deficit of 114,000 nurses in the state when a major retirement year hits in 2023.
In that year, a reduction of around 40% of Florida’s present nursing force will need to be filled by new recruits. Keeping in mind that this number also takes into account the total number of vacant spots that were never filled to begin with, the year 2023 could turn out to be particularly hard for both the state’s elderly population and the medical care facilities.
Nursing Universities in Florida are Turning Away Aspiring Nurses
In addition to the problem of not having the sufficient number of nurses to meet the present and future demand, the traditional universities in Florida are also incapable of training as many nurses as would be necessary to fill the coming void in 2023.
This is a self-admitted fact by the Florida nursing schools as they simply don’t have enough seats or resources to train everyone who is interested in joining the profession, although they know that the state and private facilities will soon need more nurses than ever before.
Increasing the seats to a number that could make a dent in the deficit is also impractical, because there can’t possibly be sufficient clinical partnerships to let all those students get their hands-on experience hours. These hours are necessary for nursing students to get licensed and receive the subsequent registered nurse status.
The Creative Solutions: Preparing for the Upcoming Deficit with the Help of Technology
As of now, online education for nurses has proven to be instrumental in both creating advanced nursing professionals, as well as for filling gaps in the administrative positions. Then, of course, there are the NPs, NNPs, and FNPs who are simultaneously filling the need for physicians and nursing professionals in remote, rural communities.
However, in spite of all the good that online nursing courses have been able to do for meeting medical demands around the globe, they have but one limitation. These courses are meant only for registered nurses with at least a decent amount of experience hours already in their resume.
The Florida Atlantic University and the Florida International University is at the forefront of an even more advanced, technological step that could potentially solve the issue of not having sufficient resources for the student nurses to get their necessary clinic hours in.
Simulation Training: Can They Prepare Student Nurses for Real Life Scenarios?
The Simulation Teaching and Research (STAR) Centre at the Florida International University has developed a series of training programs for nursing students that allow them to experience and interact with multiple, real life, medical scenarios.
From managing childbirth and stabilizing someone suffering from a massive heart attack to caring for patients with severe trauma injuries, the life-like mannequins represent various critical scenarios that a nurse will have to face in a real, clinical setting.
In light of the fact that this would allow the Florida nursing schools to train more nurses in rapid succession and meet the demand presently hampering healthcare in the state, the Florida State Board of Nursing has accepted simulation training hours as valid experience hours for student nurses.
The students will, however, only be able to use their simulation experience hours for meeting half the necessary quota. They will have to meet the other half by dealing with actual patients in a real hospital setting.
Although Florida has so far been one of the first states to adopt simulation tech as a valid method for attaining clinical experience, it isn’t really a new practice in many other parts of the world such as Japan.
Hopefully, more states will be willing to take simulation training more seriously and implement it soon, because California, Texas, New Jersey, and South Carolina will have a very grim nursing shortage on their hands to deal with by the year 2030 if they do not.