The Florida Center for Nursing (FCN) will establish a partnership with the University of South Florida (USF) in Tampa to track nursing shortages and potential solutions, WUSF Public Media announced last week. A USF College of Nursing faculty member will be selected as FCN’s interim executive director until the center selects 10 additional board members.
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FCN, which provided an analysis on the state’s nurse workforce every two years since its inception in 2001, had to close last year due to a lack of funding. However, SB 2500 presented $800,000 to the center in July to help resume operations. Senator Audrey Gibson (D – Jacksonville), whose mother served as the director of nursing and then dean of health services at Florida Junior College, supported the bill.
FCN last published a nursing staff report in 2019 and reported its findings:
“Florida is experiencing a critical shortage of registered nurses (RN), licensed practical nurses (LPN), and many other health occupations. It is further believed that this shortage will significantly worsen and steps to avert the crisis have, to date, been largely ineffective.”
The COVID-19 pandemic contributes to the ongoing workforce shortage, particularly in causing burnout and stress among health care staff. A study published in April 2021 surveyed 1,600 physicians, nurses, and first responders in hospitals across the country, including Miami and Orlando, to document self-reported symptoms.
More than half of respondents reported experiencing at least one symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder, and 20% of respondents were considered “higher risk.”
In the context of the pandemic, approximately 26,6% of Florida nursing homes are experiencing staffing shortages as of Aug. 22, 2021, about a 3% increase from the previous two months, according to the AARP Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard. Dr. Deborah Brabham told Action News Jax:
“There’s not enough nurses worldwide, or nationwide, in order to prevent the shortages.”
Florida policymakers have worked to address nursing shortage from a financial standpoint. Earlier this month, the Legislative Budget Commission met to review budget amendments for the upcoming fiscal year, unanimously approving funding for the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) and the Department of Health (DOH).
One DOH amendment requested $113 million to support staffing for Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners (ARNP), RNs, LPNs, and Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA), as well as Department support staff.
The nursing workforce shortage also poses long-term concerns. According to a May 2021 study from the University of St. Augustine for Health Services, 1.2 million new registered nurses will be needed by 2030 to address the current shortage.