U of Central Florida to expand nursing program, graduate additional 150 nurses annually

University of Central Florida in Orlando has set out to address a major issue identified by the Florida Hospital Association: an upcoming shortage of nearly 60,000 nurses by 2035.

The school's College of Nursing plans to construct a new 90,000-square-foot building that will help the university expand its nursing program and "meet the demand for more nurses in our region and state," UCF College of Nursing Dean Mary Lou Sole, PhD, RN, told Becker's. Once constructed, it will provide "three times the amount of dedicated space for simulation learning and research," for nursing students, Dr. Sole said.  

The nursing shortage is not unique to Florida and continues to be something health systems and hospitals are struggling to address nationally, but Dr. Sole told ClickOrlando "it is a national problem, but it's really exacerbated in Florida because of our growth." 

With the planned expansion of its nursing program, UCF aims to double enrollment in its Bachelor of Science in nursing program, graduate an additional 150 nursing students annually and educate graduate students to help supply nursing schools around the country with future faculty members. The university also plans to expand scholarship support with healthcare system partnerships to attract and retain nursing students. 

"As we grow, we will remain focused on providing a high-quality education, grounded in evidence-based practice, to prepare nurse leaders who are ready for practice and to face healthcare's challenges both today and tomorrow," Dr. Sole said. "Therefore, we believe that our applicant pool will remain strong." 

Funding for the new building has come in part from the Florida State Legislature, she explained. Construction has not yet started, but building designs will likely be ready in the next month. 

In the meantime, "schools and colleges of nursing must stay abreast of current trends and issues in the healthcare setting," Ms. Sole said. "It is also academia's responsibility to ensure that students are aware of the vast opportunities the nursing profession provides. Nursing is not limited to inpatient acute care."

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