- The Statewide Nursing Advisory Council proposed legislative recommendations this week to combat Florida’s nursing shortage.
- Recommendations include a supplementary higher-education voucher grant, enhancing the LINE initiative, creating a competitive grant program for hospital staff to serve as preceptors, and partnering with Early Learning Coalitions to provide childcare for bedside nurses.
- Florida’s Department of Education was advised to introduce a “Day in the life” program to showcase nursing career opportunities to middle and high school students.
- The US is projected to experience a nursing shortage resulting in a deficit of 130,000 nurses by 2025, and Florida faces a nursing workforce deficit of 60,000 nurses by 2035.
The Keiser University Nursing Advisory Council — a group comprised of government officials, educational leaders, and healthcare industry experts — delivered its legislative recommendations for the ongoing regular session in order to combat Florida’s nursing shortage.
The consortium has urged lawmakers to consider instituting a supplementary higher-education voucher grant, augmenting the existing EASE grant. This grant, referred to as an access voucher, is presently given to students enrolled in Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida (ICUF) institutions and pursuing high-demand degrees. Pursuant to the proposal, starting in the academic year 2023-2024, eligible undergraduate students meeting scholarship requirements and enrolled in a nursing baccalaureate program would receive additional grant funding via the EASE+ initiative, alongside the EASE grant.
“The idea we had with the governor was the create the EASE+ grant,” said ICUF President Robert Boyd. “[It] would incentivize high-demand degrees and encourage our students to pursue those degrees.”
Moreover, the council aims to enhance the LINE initiative, which offers matching funds to participating institutions on a dollar-to-dollar basis when partnering with healthcare providers to recruit faculty and clinical preceptors. The group’s recommendation calls for state officials to maintain their support for the program by providing sustained funding. The previous year’s state budget included a $19 million allocation to the LINE fund.
“As Florida’s population continues to grow, the state’s future economic success is intertwined with a vibrant, financially strong, and sophisticated healthcare system,” said Belinda Keiser, Vice Chancellor of Keiser University. “That future includes a strong nursing workforce.”
The Advisory Council has recommended the creation of a competitive grant program, funded by either the Florida Department of Education or the Agency for Health Care Administration, aimed at encouraging qualified hospital staff to serve as preceptors. The proposed program would enable nurses to take time away from bedside services, reducing the risk of burnout, while facilitating the certification of new nurses, thereby increasing the number of available hospital positions.
The states of Georgia, Hawaii, Missouri, Maryland, and Colorado have recently introduced pilot programs, providing a Preceptor Tax Credit to eligible healthcare providers who act as preceptors to eligible students, which served as a model for the proposed program in Florida.
Recognizing the need for childcare services during the pandemic, the Division of Early Learning provided free or reduced-rate childcare and early learning services to 28,000 children. The Statewide Nursing Advisory Council suggested this week that local Early Learning Coalitions partner with hospitals to find local childcare providers that can offer non-traditional hours conducive to nursing shiftwork. To incentivize this, they proposed subsidizing the increased cost of childcare during non-traditional hours for bedside nurses. The council recommended exploring a matching program between the state and hospitals to establish a financial subsidy for the initial pilot program, which aims to increase nurse productivity by reducing call-outs.
To engage middle and high school students, the Florida Department of Education is advised to introduce a “Day in the life” program that showcases career opportunities in nursing. The program, featuring speakers, video presentations, shadowing experiences, and nurse-led facility tours, aims to inspire interest in the profession among students. The Nursing Consortium of Florida has been conducting a comparable program in partnership with public and private schools in South Florida for more than two decades, as stated during the press conference.
According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the U.S. is projected to experience a shortage of registered nurses in the coming years, resulting in a deficit of 130,000 nurses by 2025. In addition, according to a recent report by the Florida Hospital Association, Florida faces a dire nurse staffing shortage that will result in a nursing workforce deficit of 60,000 nurses by 2035.