By Mary Sudasassi
Florida is projected to have a shortage of nearly 60,000 nurses by the year 2035. Population growth, retirement and the pandemic all play a role in the growing demand for more nurses. In addition, the country is also facing a shortage of qualified nurse educators to train the next generation of nurses. HCA Florida Healthcare and FIU's Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences are teaming up to grow the essential pipeline of nurse educators needed to preserve the future of the nursing workforce.
According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, in 2019, U.S. nursing schools turned away more than 80,000 qualified baccalaureates and graduate nursing applicants because of an insufficient number of faculty to teach them.
HCA Healthcare is donating $1.5 million to help increase recruitment for the FIU’s Nurse Educator programs and expand the number of registered nurses qualified to teach in nursing programs.
“HCA Healthcare and FIU have enjoyed a longstanding partnership,” said Charles Gressle, HCA Healthcare East Florida Division president. “I’m glad that this donation will allow them to grow their curriculum and offer scholarships to those answering the call to help prepare more of Florida’s nurses; they are the backbone of our hospitals, and our communities and patients benefit from their strength and resilience.”
HCA Healthcare and FIU Nursing are taking a proactive approach to this problem plaguing hospitals and health care systems all across the country.
“The sobering fact is that without enough nurse educators today, there will be fewer nurses for tomorrow. HCA Healthcare shares our purpose and has stepped up to the plate to grow a robust nursing faculty pipeline through FIU,” said Ora L. Strickland, dean of the Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences. “From our collaboration to launch the nation’s first Foreign-Educated Physician to Nurse re-careering program twenty years ago, to this latest venture to boost enrollment in our nurse educator programs, FIU Nursing is grateful to HCA Healthcare for their continued support as we develop innovative solutions that address critical health care industry challenges.”
FIU’s Nurse Educator programs are poised to expand recruitment this fall when the accelerated RN-BSN-MSN Nurse Educator track is introduced alongside the existing master’s degree and post-graduate certificate programs.
The gift from HCA Healthcare will help fund scholarships to attract eligible students to all programs and support the addition of full-time and adjunct faculty positions with FIU Nursing. FIU will recruit from South Florida’s culturally diverse pool of nurses currently working to prepare them as master’s-level nurse educators. Ultimately, they will be qualified to serve as faculty and preceptors for nursing programs at community colleges, baccalaureate and higher-degree institutions, and clinical sites throughout Florida.
The partnership is part of HCA Healthcare’s commitment of $10 million over three years to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) to advance healthcare diversity. FIU is a federally-designated Hispanic and Minority Serving Institution with a student body that is 61 percent Hispanic.