By 2025, experts anticipate the Tampa Bay area will face a severe shortage of skilled nurses with Bachelor’s degrees and if it’s not addressed soon, it could cripple the state’s health care system.
The shortage can be attributed to baby boomers, retiring nurses and the growing population.
Experts worry the Tampa Bay area could see more crowded emergency rooms, more medical errors, and increased mortality rates. Nurses would be expected to work long hours under stressful conditions, which could result in fatigue, injury and job satisfaction, according to Schumacher Clinical Partners Providers, a company that helps hospitals and providers with patient care.
The Suncoast Nursing Action Coalition is working to address the problem by providing scholarships to recruit more skilled nurses. The organization has also teamed up with local colleges to kick start 4-year nursing programs to attract and retain skilled nurses. The schools include USF Sarasota-Manatee, Keiser University, State College of Florida and Florida Southwestern State College.
“You’ve got this perfect storm of needs in every area for more highly educated and trained nurses,” said the organization’s founder Jan Mauck. “You want the most highly trained, experienced nurses to care for you because they’re at the bedside with you 24/7.”
Students at Keiser University are rising to the challenge to address the shortage. News Channel 8 caught up with some of these students at a training lab as they were checking the vital signs of a realistic mannequin.
“These mannequins can simulate different conditions that we may not see in our patient population in the hospital,” explained student Rich Cigich. “They can manifest high blood pressure. They can manifest droppings of pulses.”
The students say they are aware of the shortage and the concerns that come with it.
“What we need are more students to come out and become more nurses and then maybe we’ll be able to get rid of the shortage,” said Cigich.
“Even though it is concerning because yes we need more nurses, we need more professors but at the same time it just shows we have a stronger effect on the community,” said another student Dayna Adams.
National experts say their goal is to have 80 percent of all nurses have Bachelor’s degrees by 2020.