Hospitals all over Florida are experiencing a serious nursing shortage, something that has been expected for quite some time now. Indeed, the shortage is chronic and ongoing and shows little signs of abating. There are some 9,111 vacant positions for nurses in the state at present, and at least 4,163 new positions will require immediate filling.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be a need for an additional 50,000 registered nurses by 2025. Although there was a softening on the chronic nursing shortage due to the recession, it is now once again at critical level. During the recession, many nurses waited and put off their retirement. The result of this decision, however, is that there are now more nurses who are retiring simultaneously. Furthermore, the Affordable Care Act has made it possible for more people than ever to access healthcare, but they presently do not have any facilities to turn to in order to receive this.
It is a worrying statistics, therefore, that there are 27 schools in the state that are registered with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, yet some 5,564 potential nursing students had to be turned away as there are insufficient nurse educators. This would have been enough to at least meet the most immediate need for nursing staff.
Unfortunately, Florida is not the most attractive place for nurses to be employed. The median salary is just $63,000, which is 7% lower than the national average. There are significant salary variations depending on the specialization and education of the nurse and the geographical location in which they are employed. The highest paid nursing position is the cardiac catheterization lab nurse and the lowest paid is the oncology nurse. This is worrying, particularly when considering that Florida is home to a significant older population, who often suffer from cardiovascular illnesses as well as cancer.
At present, some 42.55% of people in the state live in areas that are underserved by medical professionals. The biggest demand, at present, is for nurse educators. Both the state and federal government have made funds available to allow more nurses to get a higher degree, as those with a master’s degree level are in highest demand, but so long as only a few nurse educators are available, it will be incredibly difficult to address this shortage. There is also an acute need for adult/gerontology nurses in the state.