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USF Health

USF program struggles to keep up with high demand for nurses

Florida is in high demand for nurses in 2012, and even with limited resources, the University of South Florida is trying its best to lower the shortage.

A February 2012 report by the research group Florida Center for Nursing found that the state of Florida will need of more than 6,750 registered nurses this year.

USF Director of Communications and Marketing Guy Engelhardt explained that with limited clinical sites, an increasing nursing faculty shortage, and a shrinking state budget, USF is only able to accept approximately 100 students total in the two pre-licensure BS majors each summer and fall semesters.

“As a limited access program, the USF College of Nursing receives many more qualified applications into the pre-licensure nursing majors than we can accept.”

This obstacle has caused many potential students to turn away from the nursing program.

Kelsey Pfaller, a senior who was declined a spot in this year’s nursing program and recently changed her major from pre-nursing to gerontology, said, “It came down to either switching my major or going somewhere else.”

Senior Taylor Caragan, who has a 3.67 GPA and has been denied three times from the nursing program, said she hopes to be accepted after she graduates this May with a bachelor’s in public health.  Caragan said that instead of basing undergraduate acceptance into the program solely on GPA, USF should interview finalists as well.

“Most students I know who have been accepted eventually drop out because they cannot handle it. If they interviewed the top applicants, they would be able to weed out the ones who are not meant to be nurses.”

The College of Nursing has been making improvements throughout the years. Since 2001, it has been able to more than double the number of pre-licensure BS students accepted due to a model of nursing education called the Clinical Collaborative Model. The model lets students receive one-on-one experiences with registered nurses in partner hospitals, including the newly added Sarasota Memorial Hospital, Engelhardt said.

USF is also working on encouraging existing registered nurses to obtain a Bachelor of Science degree or higher in nursing which will be required in 80 percent of hospitals by 2020. By encouraging students to receive a BS now, Englehardt said USF becomes one of only one-half of 1 percent of nursing programs nationally that have doctoral programs that can produce the nurse scientists who will fill nursing faculty positions into the future.


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