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Florida nursing shortage expected to continue through 2035

Posted at 11:49 PM, Sep 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-30 23:49:39-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Florida's demand for new nurses is quickly outpacing the supply of qualified healthcare professionals as hospitals become more and more strained as we work to overcome the pandemic.

"This 18-month response to a pandemic has just exacerbated the healthcare workforce shortage," said Mary Mayhew, Florida Hospital Association president and CEO. "The stress and strain that nurses have been under have led to some retiring early others leaving for opportunities outside of a 24 seven environment."

According to a new report from FHA, the state will need more than 37,000 registered nurses and nearly 22,000 licensed practical nurses to keep up with healthcare demands. Mayhew says the shortage is due in part to pandemic turnover.

"What we've seen in the last year that is completely unprecedented is a 25% turnover rate among our nurses, even higher among critical care nurses in the intensive care unit. That's a 30% turnover rate," Mayhew says.

Big Bend Black Nurses Association president Katrina Rivers says this challenge will require hospitals to seek creative solutions to increase recruitment and employee retention.

"In this particular area, I think that an increase in salary even outside of the emergency situation would be helpful to recruit people," Rivers says. "Creating cultures of dignity and respect for patients and healthcare professionals can probably have a positive impact on recruitment and retention as well."

Mayhew says the long-term solution will also require additional healthcare worker support.

"What we recognize as a result of this pandemic is that we need to look at mental health resources that are being brought into our hospitals, clergy, all aspects of support to provide those resources to our nurses and our health healthcare staff was given the level of trauma they've experienced over the last 18 months," Mayhew said.

ABC 27 reached out to both hospitals to learn how they're dealing with the shortage. A spokesperson from Capital Regional Medical Center says they're working to meet the challenge with optimism and innovation. We're still waiting to hear back from Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare.