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What to Know About the Nursing Shortage in Florida – Causes, Statistics, and Solutions

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May 20, 2022

States all over the nation are facing a nursing shortage, and it is expected only to get worse. Several factors contribute to the overwhelming nursing shortage in Florida as it is one of the top states with a high number of nurse openings.

Florida has slowly become desperate to fill its nurse openings and is looking to travel nurses, recent nursing graduates, and international nurses to alleviate the stress of the shortage. A 2021 report by the Florida Hospital Association and Safety Net Hospitals projects that Florida will face a shortage of more than 59,000 nurses by 2035. The deficit includes a 12% decline in Registered Nurses with 37,400 nurses lost and a 30% decline in Licensed Practical Nurses with 21,700 lost. This article will discuss an overview of the current nursing shortage, the causes of the nursing shortage in Florida, and solutions for hospitals to consider to reduce the current nursing shortage.

Overview of the Nursing Shortage in 2022

In 2022, the nursing shortage reached an all-time high, impacting hospitals nationwide. Many factors are causing the nursing shortage. These factors include nurse burnout, high turnover rates, lack of resources, and limited staff. There has also been a limit on students being admitted into nursing graduate programs, causing an insufficient supply of new nurses heading to work at hospitals.

The COVID-19 pandemic that began in 2020 is still causing strain on nurses and hospital staff across the country. Although the effects may be winding down, they will still take some time to solve and fully eradicate. In 2022, it is more challenging than ever to recruit and hire healthcare professionals at any level. The high amount of hospital patients and the need for immediate care has made a nurse's role even more crucial in our current healthcare system. According to Avant Healthcare Professionals 2022 Trends in Nurse Staffing Study, 73% of respondents stated that COVID-19 would have a long-term impact with the loss of bedside nurses to other careers.

Causes of the Nursing Shortage in Florida

There are many causes of the nursing shortage across the country, but some tend to make it worse in Florida. Overall, the pandemic has shown how demanding the role of a nurse has been. Nurses across the country face physical, mental, and emotional toll daily when working in hospitals. They are stressed, suffering from anxiety and depression, and are forced to work long, grueling hours, making their well-being worse. These conditions are causing many of them to leave the profession as they feel they can't take it anymore.

Baby Boomer Retirement in Florida

There are many factors specific to Florida contributing to the state's nursing shortage. Over the last few years, specifically following COVID-19, the population in Florida has grown significantly. Widely regarded as a retirement state, many nursing staff is needed to manage patients growing number. As the baby boomer generation continues to age and retire, skilled and experienced nurses will be required to care for them. Between 2011 to 2029, about 3.8 million baby boomers will turn 65 each year, and many will reside and retire in Florida.

Along with the population growing older, so are the nurses in the field. According to a survey from the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, the average age of a registered nurse in the U.S. in 2020 was 51 years old. Many will retire in the next 5-10 years, causing an overwhelming need to find new and younger nurses to work in hospitals.

More Nurse Faculty are Needed

In a recent study, as of February 2021, registered nursing was the fifth most in-demand job in the American workforce. With the high demand, nursing school and graduate programs cannot meet the demand for nurse leaders to take over as faculty. About 70,000 nurses retire each year, creates a massive deficit for hospital staff and nurse school programs. In a report by IHS Markit, they reported that 16% of Florida RN programs shared they lack qualified faculty, and 13% said they don't have the necessary funding to hire new faculty. The report concluded that nursing schools in Florida would need 333 more nurse faculty members to address the Florida nursing shortage.

Solutions to the Florida Nursing Shortage

Across the United States, actions are being taken to alleviate the overwhelming nursing shortage. Many of those strategies are focused on nurse retention and increasing the number of nursing students. The state expects a rise in nursing school graduates across Florida.

Increase in Telehealth Adoption

Nationwide, the Federal Health Resources and Services Administration awarded $15 million in grants to help with the high nurse demand. In Florida, universities were given money to increase their telehealth training as part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Telehealth has been widely used as COVID-19 forced healthcare systems to make immediate technological advancements to meet the overwhelming need for accessible healthcare. It was explicitly used to assist when hospitals couldn't see patients. With the growth of telehealth, nurses will be able to provide more care to their patients regardless of where they live.

Tuition Reimbursement for FL Nurses

Some hospitals in Florida began offering tuition reimbursement for employees who decide to go to nursing school. This is to encourage students who have a passion for nursing to allow them to go to school without worrying about paying for it. Other healthcare systems assist universities overwhelmed with a lack of staff and offer tenured nurses to help train nurse students. They are also working with nurse staffing agencies to hire international nurses.

Hiring International Nurses

International nurses are contracted for two-to-three-year assignments at a hospital for rates less than travel nurse rates, allowing for more stability and retention at the unit level versus the typical 13-week commitment of travel nurse contracts. Most healthcare systems are also looking for new nursing graduates to fill their openings, increase sign-on bonuses, improve pay packages, and expand internal recruitment to fill these current openings.

Bottom Line

Solving the nursing shortage in Florida will require healthcare systems to re-think where they hire nurses from and how they are trained. New nurses must be introduced and welcomed into the workforce and trained thoroughly in adapting to new work environments. Early on, they should be told that they will need to step up when older nurses retire and anticipate taking an increasing workload.

Healthcare systems in Florida must be ready to meet this overwhelming demand and look to other solutions such as international nurse staff agencies to provide quality care to their patients and reduce the shortage over time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a shortage of nurses in Florida?

Yes, Florida is currently suffering from a significant nursing shortage. According to nurse job opening data from Indeed, as of April 30, 2022, there were over 20,000 vacant nurse openings across the state. It is only getting worse because of the growing population and overwhelming need for primary healthcare.

Are nurses in high demand in Florida?

Yes, nurses are needed now more than ever in Florida and will continue to be required well into the future. In the next 14 years, Florida's population will increase by over 4 million people. According to the Florida Hospital Association, the turnover rate for nurses in Florida has been 25% over the last year and over 30% for critical care nurses. The same report stated that Florida would need to add 4,000 more nurses each year for the next decade to reach the required demand by 2035. 

Which state has the highest nursing shortage?

California, Texas, and New Jersey are the top three states with the highest registered nurse shortage. California, Texas, and Florida are the top three states with the most registered nurse job openings.

About Avant Healthcare Professionals

Need nurses? Avant Healthcare Professionals is the premier staffing specialist for internationally educated registered nurses, physical therapists and occupational therapists. Avant has placed thousands of international healthcare professionals across U.S. facilities to help improve the continuity of their care, fill hard-to-find specialties, and increase patient satisfaction, revenue and HCAHPS scores. Avant is a Joint Commission accredited staffing agency and founding member of the American Association of International Healthcare Recruitment (AAIHR). Avant Healthcare Professionals is a member of the Jackson Healthcare® family of companies.


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