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College of Nursing partners with local hospital to help burned-out nurses

The program started after many nurses left their jobs due to the stress of the pandemic, and it hopes to provide more positive resources to address the growing issue. ADOBE STOCK/SYDA PRODUCTIONS

The College of Nursing is joining forces with Sarasota Memorial Hospital (SMH) to launch the Excellence in Nursing During COVID-19 and Beyond program focusing on helping nurses handle the burnout and stress in the profession caused by the pandemic.

The six-month program, set to launch in spring 2022, will offer small group coaching sessions and resources on ways to cope with the pressure and challenges in the workforce as well as motivate nurses to stay in the field.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a significant toll on nurses, who spend so much time caring for others,” Dean of the USF Health College of Nursing and Senior Associate Vice President of USF Health Usha Menon said. “This program will empower the nurses of Sarasota, while also increasing opportunities for our students to work in the region.”

The pilot project was funded by a $115,000 donation from David Kotok and Christine Schlesinger, longtime supporters of the Sarasota-Manatee campus, a $25,000 grant from the Gulf Coast Community Foundation and additional grants from the USF Foundation, according to a press release Wednesday.

Kotok and Schlesinger have been involved with the Sarasota-Manatee campus for several years, and last year contributed to the creation of the free program focused on providing COVID-19 safety information and education credits to nurses in the field.

While the program is set to last six months, it will extend to the next two years as faculty in the College of Nursing continue to collaborate with SMH to deliver the program to their frontline nurses. To fund the two-year program, the Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation received a $400,000 grant from the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation.

“Nurses are leaving the workforce at a much faster rate than we had anticipated,” assistant professor at the College of Nursing Rayna Letourneau said.

“That’s because they’re not able to care for themselves safely and care for their patients safely, and they’re just burned out. That’s why this program is so much needed.”

Besides providing incoming nurses with support and resources on ways to navigate the field and manage stress, USF nursing students will get to enroll in a clinical preceptorship-to-hire program focused on placing nurses at SMH.