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USF Health College of Nursing to launch program to help with local nursing shortage

Nursing students at USF who are wanting to work at Sarasota Memorial Hospital after graduating will also be provided a clinical preceptorship-to-hire program.

TAMPA, Fla. — The USF Health College of Nursing is partnering with Sarasota Memorial Hospital (SMH) to launch a program to help with the critical workforce shortage that stems from nurses leaving their jobs in record-breaking numbers, a news release from the University of South Florida explains.

The Excellence in Nursing During COVID-19 and Beyond program reportedly aims to "improve the working environment for nurses facing burnout and stress as the pandemic persists."

Set to start in spring 2022, the program will provide small group coaching along with the resources needed to help clinical nurses and nursing students handle their work and encourage them to stay, according to the university.

There will also be a clinical preceptorship-to-hire program provided through this program for USF nursing students who are wanting to work at SMH or its new Venice location after graduation, USF explains.

“We believe this collaboration with USF will provide meaningful support for all of our nurses, especially bedside caregivers working tirelessly on the front lines,” SMH Chief Nursing Officer Connie Andersen said in a statement.

The program received help in donations from David Kotok and Christine Schlesinger who gifted $115,000 along with a $25,000 grant from Gulf Coast Community Foundation, the release states. 

Private gifts and grants from the USF Foundation also helped fund this soon-to-be-launched program.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a significant toll on nurses, who spend so much time caring for others,” Senior Associate Vice President of USF Health Usha Menon said in a statement.  “This program will empower the nurses of Sarasota, while also increasing opportunities for our students to work in the region.”

USF says the faculty plans to continue to partner with the hospital even after the six-month program ends by "delivering the program to all front-line nurses at SMH over the next two years." 

Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation is fundraising for the two-year program at SMH, for which they received a $400,000 matching grant from the Charles and Margery Barancik Foundation.

“COVID has exacerbated a nationwide shortage of nurses. Government can’t fix it, but community and philanthropy must do so or our collective healthcare is in jeopardy,” Kotok said in a statement.

But nursing shortages are not only affecting the Tampa Bay area. The medical field is seeing numbers of nurses leaving their jobs all across the country.

The reasoning behind the shortages? High demand and low supply, the University of St. Augustine (USA) report in a data study.

The university says rising demand, retirement drain, location factor, the stress of the job and lack of educators for the nurse are the main reasons behind why there is a nursing shortage in the first place.

With this in mind, what solutions are there to fix this issue? 

According to USA, greater access to education, strategic workplace accommodations and flexibility along with lobbying and advocacy could possibly help in the fight against the shortage.