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Florida's Public University System Wants To Woo Nursing Faculty With Incentive Program

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Credit Tallahassee Community College
The Florida Channel

Florida’s public university system is developing a program to address a shortage in nurses. The American Academy of Nursing has projected a shortfall extending through 2030.

Florida’s population is growing. It’s also getting older. And more people have health insurance. That’s driving demand for healthcare services, and just as there is a need for more physicians, there’s also a need for more nurses. 10 of Florida’s 12 public universities offer nursing programs. And many of the state’s community colleges do too. But Ed Morton, a member of the state’s university system has some questions for those presidents:

“We’re critically short of doctors, we’re critically short of nurses. I looked at 12 work plans, I didn’t see anyone talking about registered nursing. We’ve ceded to other schools and universities one of the fundamental, critical needs of the state of Florida," he said.

There’s a big demand for nurses with bachelor’s degrees. And while there are programs in nearly every college, each is different. Then there’s the problem of finding teachers. To teach a nurse  you have to be a nurse. And to recruit teachers you have to pay them, says Kathy Robinson, a registered nurse and board of governors member.

“We’re starting them around $50 [thousand dollars], which is what our baccalaureate graduates get. A top professor could earn maybe $120 [thousand] to $130 [thousand], which isn’t hard for a nurse practitioner to earn in regular practice,” said Robinson.

She says a nurse recently turned down a teaching offer because the salary was too low: There are also problems with access to clinical training spaces—private, for-profit schools often pay for space for their students, but then those students are restricted in what they can do. Universities can do a lot in simulation labs, but their students need real-world training.  Meanwhile, board member Deborah Jordan notes the nursing and physician shortage is not just a Florida problem.

“I know in Massachusetts, where I have two friends who are nurses, they can--to your point Kathy--They can go wherever they want and work and ask for and demand a salary because they’ve been doing it a long time and they’re valued. They’re [Massachusetts] is just not producing enough nurses.”

The Board of Governors plans to ask the Florida legislature for a one-time influx of $15 million for a nursing faculty incentive program. The money would go toward recruiting and keeping nursing faculty at the state’s public universities.

Copyright 2020 WFSU. To see more, visit WFSU.

Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas. She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. When she’s not working, Lynn spends her time watching sci-fi and action movies, writing her own books, going on long walks through the woods, traveling and exploring antique stores. Follow Lynn Hatter on Twitter: @HatterLynn.