Long before the University of South Florida began efforts to consolidate the accreditations of its three campuses and offer programs system-wide, USF St. Petersburg wanted a nursing program to call its own.
“We have had this on our radar from the time I came here three years ago and I think it was on the radar prior to that as well,” said USFSP Regional Chancellor Martin Tadlock.
That’s mainly due to a need for qualified nurses. While Bureau of Labor statistics show employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 15 percent from 2016 to 2026, the Florida Center for Nursing predicts a nursing shortage statewide of over 50,000 by 2025.
“We know through demand studies that there is a nursing shortage, that we have much more demand for nursing in St. Petersburg and in Pinellas County than we’re able to meet currently,” added Tadlock. “The demand is greater here because of the demographics that we have (in Florida), but there is a shortage nationwide.”
USFSP will begin offering an accelerated second-degree nursing program this fall, with applications opening April 1st.
“The Accelerated Second Degree nursing major is the perfect option for the St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee campuses, because it was created specifically for people who already have a bachelor’s degree in another major,” said Victoria Rich, Dean of the USF College of Nursing and Senior Associate VP of USF Health. “The students we are targeting are educated and focused; they are ready to earn a nursing degree in just four semesters.”
Tadlock said the St. Pete program is designed to have an initial class of 25 to 30 students with the ability to grow over time depending on need. When the Sarasota-Manatee program was announced, Rich said the goal was to graduate as many as 50 nurses per year.
Thanks to an agreement with the city of St. Petersburg, the USFSP program will be located in the Port Terminal Building on 8th Avenue SE, next to the USF College of Marine Science. USF will lease the former home of the Marine Exploration Center for two years at $44,820 a year.
The almost 11,000-square-foot building will be renovated to use as classroom, office and laboratory space.
“We were fortunate to be able to lease the facility from the city as an intact facility that just needs some modifications, which reduces greatly the cost of putting a facility in place to accommodate the nursing lab and the classroom that we need for those students,” said Tadlock.
Students will also learn in the simulation facilities on the USF Tampa campus. Clinical experiences will take place in other locations, including hospitals around St. Petersburg and Pinellas County.
“(USF College of Nursing faculty) are in touch with our colleagues here in the Innovation District of St. Pete, Bayfront Health, BayCare, Johns Hopkins All Children's and various other locations where we have clinical opportunities,” said Tadlock.
Tadlock pointed out that, while this idea has been in the works for a while, it also shows what can be done when USF’s campuses – and the people who work there – cooperate on projects that can serve students and the community.
“This is just one first step in that collaboration of bringing new academic programs to the residents of Pinellas County through the consolidation process where we have one accredited institution, no transferability issues and the ability to bring academic programs offered at Tampa to Pinellas County,” he said.
“We’re in conversation with USFSM about bringing the risk management and hospitality programs here,” Tadlock continued. “We’re in conversation with USF Tampa about engineering-related programming being brought here, also doctoral programs, educational leadership for example…and in the arts, different programs in the arts that we don’t have the capacity to offer right now, but we would love to see them come here.
“In the long run, those will be on what’s called a master academic plan, so for the next five years, we will have a lineup of various programs that we will see come here as a result of the consolidation process,” said Tadlock. “We’re excited about that.”