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USF New Home For Tracking Florida Nursing Shortages

signs at University of South Florida entrance

USF is now home to the Florida Center for Nursing, where research is conducted on the supply and demand of the nursing field.

The Florida Center for Nursing will reopen at the University of South Florida, with a mission of tracking nursing shortages across the state and finding ways to improve those numbers.

In its 2019 annual report, the center said the state was experiencing a “critical shortage of registered nurses, licensed practitioners, and many other health occupations.”

Although the center hasn’t had the resources to assess the shortage recently, USF College of Nursing Dean Usha Menon said the problem is still evident.

“As you talk to area employers, anecdotally, we keep hearing that there is a tremendous shortage,” said Menon. “So they're constantly operating under, what is not only the accepted norm, but might really be the safest norm for patient safety.”

Lawmakers established the center in 2001 at the University of Central Florida. It closed last year due to a lack of funding — but has now been revived with $800,000 from the Florida Legislature.

A faculty member from the USF College of Nursing will be named the interim executive director of the center until a board of ten members is named.

USF faculty will also work with the center to do research that will analyze data on the nursing field and come up with methods to keep nurses in Florida — a problem that’s been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We're also looking for ways in which to keep that energy that we went into the profession with alive, to prevent the burnout, to prevent the stress,” said Menon.

Menon said the shortage needs to be addressed to maintain care levels in Florida hospitals.

“What that means is that when you're looking for a nurse to provide care, there isn't one there immediately, because that nurse is taking care of far too many other patients,” said Menon. “That's what the shortage really breaks down to.”

Jorgelina Manna-Rea is a WUSF Rush Family/USF Zimmerman School Digital News intern for the fall of 2021, her second straight semester with WUSF.
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