Florida Nursing Shortage Will Have Crippling Effect
Florida's nursing shortage could have a "crippling" effect on the state in 10 years if the issue is not addressed, according to a report by the Florida Center for Nursing, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports. For the study, a team of researchers led by Jennifer Nooney, the center's director of research, examined trends in the demand for nurses at state hospitals and other health care service providers based on the rising level of health care needed by the aging population.
The study found that the current state shortage of 11,000 registered nurses could increase to 52,000 by 2020 and cause problems in state health care within six years if the issue is not addressed. Nooney said, "We find that 50,000 shortage to be catastrophic," adding, "We want to fix the shortage instead of creating a situation where hospitals have to shift the nursing workload to lesser trained (workers)."
According to the study, South Florida has the state's greatest nursing shortage, with 16% of the nursing positions in the region unfilled. The researchers said that the rate of registered nurse graduates -- currently about 6,000 per year -- would have to increase annually by 15% to cover the gap. The report also encouraged hospitals to increase efforts to retain their nursing staff by reducing workloads and stress.
Nursing school officials say that efforts to raise the number of nursing graduates have been affected by a lack of hospital space for training and funds to attract additional instructors. According to the Sun-Sentinel, "If the shortage worsens, institutions would look for more ways to shift duties to nursing aides, a process already well under way." Nooney said hospitals also would hire more temporary nurses, who are less familiar with the setting (LaMendola, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 8/28).
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