By Kyle Chambers
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on health care has made it more important than ever for nursing schools to educate the next generation of front-line providers. Now, thanks to an effort by Florida lawmakers to combat the nursing shortage, the University of Florida College of Nursing plans to build a “pipeline” to move well-prepared nurses into the workforce.
As the state’s top-ranked nursing program, the college will receive $3.6 million in state grants referred to as Prepping Institutions, Programs, Employers and Learners through Incentives for Nursing Education funding for fiscal year 2023. This recurring yearly funding, also known as PIPELINE, will help the state meet the demand for baccalaureate-prepared nurses, nurse practitioners and nurse scientists.
“As the preeminent nursing institution in the state, we are proud to champion the advancement of nursing education,” said UF College of Nursing Dean and the Linda Harman Aiken Chair, Anna McDaniel, Ph.D., R.N., FAAN. “With the PIPELINE funding, we will not only increase the supply of front-line BSN-prepared nurses but also grow our graduate student body, which will contribute to the nursing faculty pipeline and further address the current nursing shortage.”
During the pandemic, the nursing profession was impacted by an acute shortage of nursing care in hospitals, nursing homes and schools, requiring new clinicians to address the gaps in the nation’s health care infrastructure.
To meet student enrollment targets, the college plans to increase the number of students admitted to its top-ranked Doctor of Nursing Practice, or D.N.P., and Bachelor of Science in Nursing, or B.S.N., programs, by expanding its faculty resources.
To help the college maximize supervised instructional time and expand the clinical placement options available to students, PIPELINE funding will be used to recruit nearly 20 new faculty at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Enrollment in the B.S.N. program at the UF Health Jacksonville campus is expected to increase by 50% in 2023, eventually doubling by 2025. Enrollment at the home campus in Gainesville will also increase by over 15%.
With a larger faculty, the College of Nursing’s Ph.D. program will be even more prepared to educate the nurse scientists of tomorrow. Additional highly renowned, research-intensive faculty will not only increase the college’s research output, but also serve as a draw for the “best and brightest” Ph.D. students.
The college’s state-of-the-art simulation space, the Thomas M. and Irene B. Kirbo Innovation and Learning Lab, will also see a boon. Funding will be allotted to buy, repair and update equipment at the Gainesville and Jacksonville campuses.
Supporting students who have unmet financial needs or plan to pursue a career in nursing education will continue to be a priority. Undergraduate and graduate students will be eligible for new PIPELINE-created scholarships, benefiting future nurses like senior Rose Termidor, who is working toward a bachelor’s degree.
“As a first-generation student, being a scholarship recipient is an important reason why I was able to attend the University of Florida.” she said. “Because of the scholarship I received, I was able to focus more on my studies and prepare to become the best clinician I can be.”