Florida's Healthcare Problem Could Slow State's Economic Growth

Florida's Healthcare Problem Could Slow State's Economic Growth

Jackson Bakich
Jackson Bakich
April 18, 2023

Many people are moving to Florida each day because of our good economy, freedom, and way of life. But a big healthcare problem might slow this growth.

For a long time, Florida has had too few highly trained nurses. The pandemic made this problem much worse. Now, the Florida Hospital Association says we need 60,000 more nurses by 2035 or this crisis will continue.

In 2022, the Florida Legislature started fixing the problem by giving $79 million to reward high-performing public nursing schools. This was a good start, but public colleges and universities can’t solve this problem alone.

In January, Governor Ron DeSantis announced that only 27 public schools in the state met the criteria to get the state funds. We should be concerned that public schools and their nursing programs cannot grow fast enough to meet the need for more nurses.

They need help from private schools, which are built for growth.

We should support high-quality private nursing programs so they can prepare more nurses for jobs. Luckily, state senators recently added grant money in their proposed state budget for this. To get the money, private colleges would need to be accredited and have a 70% pass rate on the national nursing exam, similar requirements as the public programs.

If lawmakers give private schools just a small fraction of what they gave public schools, it will go a long way to address Florida’s nursing shortage.

The Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (FSHCC) recently endorsed the budget proposal but called for giving more private schools access to the grant. Imagine what these schools could do if $5-10 million were set aside to address this big concern.

Some private nursing schools, like Galen College of Nursing, Chamberlain University, Rasmussen University, Jersey College, Miami Regional University, and HCI College, have already shown they can prepare students well, with pass rates of 70% or higher in 2022 on the national nursing exam. With the right incentives, you better believe other schools will do what’s needed to get more students ready for the workforce.

This is a win-win-win situation. It guarantees peace of mind for Floridians, the schools in need of the funding, and the Florida Legislature. It will deliver results. Perhaps results that legislators and representatives can run on in upcoming elections.

“Our health and wellness must be at the forefront of state leaders’ plans, including ensuring that we have enough medical professionals to take care of all Floridians, today and tomorrow,” said Julio Fuentes, president of the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

He’s right. We can’t keep doing the same things and expect different results. We need to more nurses from different backgrounds – first-generation college students, parents going back to work, and others – who are more likely to go to a private nursing school.

If we don’t act now, this problem will only get worse – but luckily, lawmakers can do the right thing to close Florida’s nursing gap for good.

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Jackson Bakich

Jackson Bakich

Born in Orlando but raised in Lake County, Florida, Jackson Bakich is currently a senior at Florida State University. Growing up in the sunshine state, Bakich co-hosted the political talk radio show "Lake County Roundtable" (WLBE) and was a frequent guest for "Lake County Sports Show" (WQBQ). Currently, he is the Sports Editor of the FSView and the co-host of "Tomahawk Talk" (WVFS), a sports talk radio program covering Florida State athletics in Tallahassee.

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