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Published On: Fri, Jun 17th, 2016

Southwest Florida in the Center of a Nursing Shortage

There is a nursing shortage across the United States, and new research shows there is an even larger shortage of qualified nurses in southwest Florida, in particular. As more people live longer and gain access to healthcare, medical facilities will become unable to keep up with the demand. If this shortage isn’t relived, there will continue to be a high turnover of qualified staff as over worked nurses leave the field to change careers.

Access to Education Isn’t Enough

There are a variety of ways that individuals can enter the field of nursing. There are, for example, online degree programs, including MSN online programs that will prepare you to become a qualified, professional nurse. And there are also many schools throughout the country that offer ADN to NP programs, as well as RN to MSN programs. But, again, because the job is quite stressful to begin with, the current shortage is making it difficult for people to stay in the field even if they receive the right qualifications. Unless more people start going to school to become nurses and start filling in the many job openings available, things are not likely to change in the near future.

DFID—UK Dept. or International Development from Flickr Creative Commons.

DFID—UK Dept. or International Development from Flickr Creative Commons.

The Nursing Shortage of Southwest Florida

A report taken in 2014 analyzed the occupations in Southwest Florida with the biggest gaps in terms of openings versus available workers, nursing came in first place. More specifically, the study revealed that the demand exceeded the supply of nurses by 534.

Just a few years ago nursing was not an occupation that was suffering from major staff shortages in Florida. So even though the country on the whole has been experiencing a nursing shortage for quite some time, it took a bit longer for southwest Florida to be affected. By the year 2025, it is expected that the entire state will require 50,000 more nurses than it employs, so the problem is expected to grow rather than go away. As the population of Florida ages and more people in the area have increased healthcare needs supply is set to exceed demand.

Working on Finding Solutions to the Problem

Even though the outlook is quite bleak, medical facilities throughout southwest Florida are working hard at filling in this nursing gap. For example, the Future Makers Coalition of Southwest Florida is working hard with communities around the nation to focus on best practices. They are also currently working on a program that will provide financial aid, as well as education, to individuals who wish to earn their certification as nursing assistants.

On top of all that, local hospitals in the area are also working more aggressively to hire more nurses, though they are letting people know that nursing vacancies aren’t putting patient safety or care in jeopardy.

With a focused effort on the part of medical facilities, and with more education becoming accessible to more people, hopefully the nursing shortage in Florida, and around the country, can soon be brought under control.

Guest Author: Carol Trehearn

About the Author

- Outside contributors to the Dispatch are always welcome to offer their unique voices, contradictory opinions or presentation of information not included on the site.

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