TAMPA, Fla. — Florida is facing a "nursing crisis," according to a report released by the Florida Hospital Association on Thursday.
The report projects the state faces a shortfall of nearly 60,000 nurses by 2035. The report was commissioned by the Florida Hospital Association and the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida from IHS Markit.
According to a press release, the report's projections show that the state will face a shortfall of 59,100 nurses, including a 12% shortfall in registered nurses and a 30% shortfall in licensed practical nurses.
“Florida needs nurses now and well into the future. A recent FHA study, prior to the current spike in COVID-19, showed an 11 percent vacancy rate for nurses this spring and that one in four nurses left their positions last year,” said Mary C. Mayhew, President and CEO of the Florida Hospital Association. “As Florida’s population continues to grow, our healthcare system must be ready to meet the ever-increasing demand for services. A strong healthcare workforce and capacity in the education system to graduate needed nurses over the coming years are critical.”
Mayhew told ABC Action News we know that in the hospital, it is a demanding job in the best of circumstances, adding on top of that the pandemic, which Mayhew explains exacerbated already existing shortages.
The press release said the report found the need for nurses isn't evenly distributed across the state. It said Florida's major metropolitan areas are projected to largely have an adequate supply of RNs, but a shortfall of LPNs. While the state's rural areas are forecast to face a shortage of RNs but have a large adequate supply of LPNs.
In the report, the Florida Hospital Association and Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida suggest addressing the nurse shortage through measures like expanding nursing schools and clinical training capacity and increasing the number of nurse faculty opportunities.
“As we have seen throughout this pandemic, there is no substitute for the care of an excellent nurse. Our state’s rapid, accelerating growth is a testament to the state’s strong pandemic response and to the state’s leadership during this crisis. This growth does put a strain on existing infrastructure - including health care generally and nurses specifically," Justin Senior, CEO of the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida said.
"It is our hope that this study will provide valuable information to all of those in leadership positions about the state’s near-future nursing needs. These needs require a thoughtful, all-encompassing approach to educating, training, recruiting, and retaining Florida’s present and future nurses. We are confident that by addressing the nursing pipeline through investments in nursing education and training programs and in nursing schools that we can avoid nurse shortages and strengthen the state's healthcare delivery system."
ABC Action News spoke to Lisa Johnson, Baycare's Chief Nursing Officer, about solutions to the projected shortfall.
“I’ve been through a lot of nursing shortages, so I know we always find a way, and we really do that with partnering with our schools, creating a good environment for our nurses to work in, but we also have to be, and more than ever before, will have to be very innovative and creative to face the challenges."
Read the full report below