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Gov. Ron DeSantis approves more than $100 million to tackle nursing shortage

'In Florida, we are stepping up to the plate,' DeSantis says
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Posted at 4:43 PM, May 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-16 17:57:15-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Monday he would greenlight $125 million in the next budget to help fight a nursing shortage in the Sunshine State.

"This is something that we take seriously," the governor said at a press event in Sanford. "How could I not? My mother was a nurse for over 40 years."

The Legislature divided the funding into two programs.

PIPELINE (Prepping Institutions, Programs, Employers, and Learners through Incentives for Nursing Education) uses $100 million to reward higher ed programs for the number of nurses they produce or for high-achieving students.

The second, LINE (Linking Industry to Nursing Education), creates a $25 million competitive grant to recruit nursing educators.

"In Florida, we are stepping up to the plate," DeSantis said. "We are doing, probably, more than any other state in recent times."

Lawmakers approved the programs in an omnibus education bill earlier this year. Their effort comes after many nurses left the profession during the COVID pandemic.

New research also suggests that 30% quit after their first year. Other data shows Florida will see a shortage of about 60,000 nurses by 2035.

Emily Bloom, Florida Nurse Coalition
Emily Bloom with the Florida Nurse Coalition is encouraged by the education announcement but says more changes need to be made, like better pay.

"Investing in education is never a bad thing," Emily Bloom with the Florida Nurse Coalition said.

A nurse herself, Bloom led the recent Capitol rally and said the education money is a start. Her group has sought better pay, no wage caps, improved patient ratios and laws shielding health workers from violence.

"We definitely need more of them to come into the profession, but how do we retain them once they are there?" Bloom asked. "That, I think, is what we need to be focusing on more than anything."

The bigger reforms may have to wait. State lawmakers don't return for their regular lawmaking session until March.

The new funding, however, is set to take effect in July. It still needs the governor's signature on the budget.