OPINION: USF should use government funds to combat nursing shortage across all campuses

Nursing shortages have been a national problem for years and Florida is taking definitive action; now, it is in the hands of USF to enhance their nursing program and combat this problem. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE

Gov. Ron DeSantis awarded $79 million to high-achieving Florida education nursing programs on Jan. 5 as nursing shortages continue to increase.

USF College of Nursing was awarded $6.9 million in June 2022 through the Prepping Institutions, Programs, Employers, and Learners through Initiatives for Nursing Education (PIPELINE)  program in order to combat the nursing shortage and expand the college, as stated on the USF Health College of Nursing website. This money, along with other funding provided by the government, is being used to build a new Nursing/STEM building on the Sarasota-Manatee Campus. 

USF needs to use the money from the PIPELINE funding towards adding hands-on training resources to all of its campuses so they can target a larger population and increase the number of nursing students in the BSN programs.

The USF College of Nursing Sarasota-Manatee website states that the new building will include simulation labs, larger classrooms, group-study spaces, a nursing skills lab and more amenities that will aid the nursing program in maintaining its success and combat the nursing shortage in Florida.

Currently, USF only provides these resources for the USF Morsani College of Medicine at the Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation (CAMLS). This is only open to USF’s medical students, preventing students on the nursing path from taking advantage of these resources for their education. The PIPELINE funding is currently channeled toward building such simulation labs on the Sarasota-Manatee campus alone. 

It is predicted that Florida will experience a nursing shortage of 59,000 in 12 years, according to a 2021 study by the Florida Hospital Association. As this number continues to decline, it is important to prevent this from occurring early on by adding educational amenities that will enhance the learning environment of students and encourage more students to apply to these programs.

Many nurses complete only their registered nursing (RN) degree and do not continue their educational path towards a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). The motivation to pursue higher level nursing education often goes away after students receive the RN title. Some nursing students may also not have the time or money to continue their education to a BSN level. 

Accessing clinics as an undergraduate student is not always easy without connections or without students knowing where to start this journey. This can be resolved by including simulation labs on all USF campuses so that all nursing students, whether they receive an RN or BSN certification, will have the opportunity to use their career skills before graduating. This will lead to an increase in nurses capable of taking on their jobs with the experience needed.

With the nursing population continuously declining across the nation, Florida has continued to take the right steps to prevent this problem from spiraling after the pandemic by enhancing their nursing programs. With this benefit, it is extremely important that USF uses these funds to create a welcoming and motivating nursing program across all its campuses to prevent nursing shortages in Tampa and beyond.