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Front Page » Healthcare » Florida faces potentially crippling nursing shortage

Florida faces potentially crippling nursing shortage

Written by on January 7, 2020
Florida faces potentially crippling nursing shortage

The healthcare industry is scrambling to head off a predicted nursing shortage that could be devasting to patient care.

“Baseline forecasts show that Florida will face a shortage of registered nurses by 2025 that is capable of crippling our healthcare system and reducing access to care for Floridians,” according to the Florida Center for Nursing, a workforce center established by state statute.

“Demand for nursing personnel is projected to increase dramatically as Florida’s large baby boom cohort reaches typical ages for retirement and begins to require more care for age-related conditions, and as healthcare reform increases the demand for more services. At the same time, more than 40% of Florida’s nurses are approaching retirement age within the next 10 years and there are not enough younger nurses to replace them.

“Resolving Florida’s nursing shortage will require a multi-pronged approach, including interventions to increase the production of new nurses, improve the work environment to retain existing nurses, and redesign work to accommodate the older nurse. Here you will find forecasts of Florida’s nursing shortage, strategies for addressing the shortage, and evidence for these strategies,” the report said.

“Relatively speaking, the situation is not as critical or pervasive in South Florida as it is in some other communities,” said Linda Quick, former president of the South Florida Hospital & Healthcare Association and now president of the Quick-Bernstein Connection Group, a consulting firm. “We have 12 to 20 public and private educational institutions that claim to be preparing people for nursing careers,” including for-profit nursing colleges that advertise widely.

“The shortage really is in experienced, tenured nurses in some special departments, and the only way you get there is to work in a hospital.”

To ramp up staff experience, some hospital systems are hiring newly graduated nurses and offering them scholarships to train in some specialty areas, provided the trainee agrees to remain with the system for an agreed-upon length of time.

“An additional strategy for patient care is the hiring of certified nursing assistants, or CNAs,” Ms. Quick said. “If you find people who have potential, a lot of institutions will train them or urge them to go back to school to become nurses. Baptist Health South Florida is putting ads all around aimed at CNAs, or even housekeeping and kitchen staffs, that say, ‘We’ll help you become a nurse while you keep working, and you’ll work for us in the new job once you’ve graduated.’ They’re looking for those inborn qualities that you bring to the table. The curriculum you can always learn, once you have those basic personality skills.”

A shortage also exists in skilled-nursing facilities such as nursing homes, she said. “Geriatrics is challenging, and not many people would choose that specialty.” Yet, long-term care will become increasingly important in light of longer life spans, observers say.

Ann-Lynn Denker, an advanced registered nurse practitioner and Ph.D., is uniquely qualified to address the skilled nursing issue. After having spent 38 years in various capacities in the Jackson Health System, she served from 2015 to 2017 as chief clinical officer for the Plaza Health Network, which operates rehabilitation and skilled-nursing centers.

“I always worked in pediatrics, and when I went to work in a network of long-term care facilities, it was an environment where there weren’t as many registered nurses and people with as much education. It was important to engage the staff and create a collegial environment.”

Part of the nursing shortage is related to burnout and subsequent attrition, she added. “Sometimes it takes a full year for a recent nurse graduate to feel comfortable, so they really need to feel supported. It’s a lot better to keep people than to have turnover, and with good working conditions they’re less likely to leave.”

In an effort to draw more nursing talent to the facilities, Dr. Denker says she liked to invite students to perform clinical rotations there. “You develop relationships with them, and they get a different perspective. I think it’s helpful for both the students and faculty. Working with staff, the students can see how they might make a difference.”

4 Responses to Florida faces potentially crippling nursing shortage

  1. Laura Zumberg

    January 8, 2020 at 2:12 pm

    I have been an LPN in Pinellas county for over 40 years with at least 30 of those years in Skilled care at Nursing homes.
    Nurses are not treated well and are expected to perform their assignments that, if done per protocol, would not be able to be done in 8 hours and longer shifts are physically exhausting because even though the law demands it.
    A nurse is lucky to eat a meal or take a break and even using the restroom.
    . In nursing homes one nurse may be assigned 21 patients which includes Cna assignments and follow through. Pass meds. treatments. Admit and discharge patients and not to include doctors orders, labs as well as incident reports and emergency 911 calls . Family concerns and complaints etc.
    The state inspections are in need to be reviewed and made more realistic. Nurses cant and dont do what is expected because it cant be done. Example. Dont give meds in dinning room. That is only not done when state is there. The nurse does this so she can cut corners to get her work done. Read the way a person with a tube should be given meds. Even with short cuts the nurse will need to work past her shift to complete and is told to punch out then finish so the facility won’t have to pay. And dont forget to wash our hands. Nurses are at risk to so many illnesses. I can go on and on. I love gerictris but the day I said “no more”. I looked at 12 elderly patients tired and leaning out of their chairs at 6am to go to “Restorative Dining” (another rule that needs reviewed) and good luck on getting the busy CNA to get them back to bed to nap. If not they are up till 2pm. Can you imagine your loved one sitting so long like that. It made me emotionally I’ll. The rules just kept coming without real concern to patient or staff. Just what looks good on paper. I used to beg people to go into nursing but no longer. Nurses are tired and need support. We were trained to look at things as a Challenge. But there are now too many Challanges to complete.
    When are the geriatric patients be abe to be a geriatric in nursing homes. Your skilled units are so noisy with all the Skilled depts that the elderly are Really forgotten
    They deserve better. The skilled units patients are younger with different needs. They need facilities set aside for just that and staffed realistically so all the rules and paperwork can be done right
    And let the geriatrics be spoiled as they Respectively deserve. I nursed in the 70s as charge nurse in nursing homes and wish those days were back.

  2. Julie Griffin

    January 8, 2020 at 3:38 pm

    Dear Ms. Lackner, I would like to take a moment to respond to your article Florida faces potentially crippling nursing shortage. In your read, you quoted HRSA report from October 2010. A decade has passed and the new report actually shows the opposite for Florida. I have been a nurse for 25 years and would like to respond. Florida has some of the worst pay and staffing ratios for nurses. Not all hospitals, I will add, but many FL hospitals are recording record breaking profits and forecast even larger in the future. Nurses in FL are often facing retaliation when speaking up regarding safety at the bedside. I personally have met numerous nurses who have left the bedside for fear of losing their nursing license. I have even met nurses that live in FL and fly to other states to work then return home after their 36 hour week. Your interview with Linda Quick said it best, when she states “The shortage really is in experienced, tenured nurses in some special departments, and the only way you get there is to work in a hospital.” Florida could retain experienced nurses if, and probably only if, hospitals provide the environment that nurses can work in. So often many of us clock out of work knowing that we could not possibly provide the care needed. Johns Hopkins released a study naming medical errors as the 3rd leading cause of death in America. Some of the errors that lead to injury or death can be attributed to short staffing of nurses. Missed care, weather lethal or not, is absurd when you look at the profits of hospitals. As a community, we must address this issue. Nurses are the most trusted profession 18 years in a row. We are trying to tell Florida, something is wrong here, but it never gets reported on. This is the real story. I am including the newest report from HRSA to reflect the accurate predictions. You can also take a look at our website to read our story.
    Thank you
    Julie G

  3. Josephine Mercado

    January 9, 2020 at 12:13 pm

    Florida has the Florida Community Health Worker Coalition which members, when properly trained, can create awareness, teach chronic disease early detection and self managment skills, and most importantly, they do so in a very cost effective manner, when given the opportunity.
    To increase the delivery of quality health care in Florida, the State legislature should qualify the work of appropriately trained Comunity Health Workers (CHW) for Medicaid reimbursement. Working under the supervision of a seasoned nurse, CHWs can help address the expected nursing shortages, while at the same time improving the patient’s outcomes and reducing the cost of the healthcare system.

  4. Tammy

    March 31, 2020 at 9:18 am

    As a Canadian nurse, I can tell you this is the fault of the offices (administrators,managers, HR, recruiters) that run the hospitals. I have applied multiple times with ZERO follow up. I already have the paperwork (VISA) & licensing done and had no interest from recruitment. I have all kinds of ER experience & certifications. Cry all you want but there are nurses here begging for a job and you don’t want us. Bye.