Editor’s Note: SNAC is a regional coalition associated with the Florida Action Coalition whose mission is to develop resources and help implement recommendations from the 2010 Institute of Medicine report “The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health.” SNAC is made up of representatives from health systems, colleges and universities training nurses, and community members in a four-county region – Sarasota, Manatee, DeSoto, and Charlotte.
In response to a critical and prolonged nursing shortage, the Suncoast Nursing Action Coalition (SNAC) awarded 22 scholarships totaling $74,000 on August 15 to strengthen the region’s nursing workforce and boost the number of nursing school instructors training students on the Suncoast. The scholarships are part of a grassroots plan to develop a robust pipeline of well-educated nurses to replace a wave of retiring nurses and ensure continued access to safe, high-quality care on the Suncoast.
“Nurses represent our first line of defense … their vigilance and skill at the bedside keeps patients safe and promote the best health outcomes, said Jan Mauck, former Chief Nursing Officer at Sarasota Memorial Health Care System and co-chair of SNAC, a grassroots coalition of hospital and academic nursing leaders working together to address critical needs in the four-county Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte, and Desoto region. “With our population growth, and the population living longer, we need to do all we can to boost the nursing workforce in our community and prepare our nurses for the challenges ahead.”
The American Nurses Association estimates that the U.S. will need to train more than a million new nurses by 2022 to offset the prolonged and worsening nursing shortage. The situation is most concerning in Florida, where the number of residents over age 65 is twice the national average and concerns are mounting over whether there will be enough to care for the largest generation living today, the retiring baby boomers.
Since 2016, SNAC has awarded $214,000 in nursing scholarships to 58 local recipients (including those awarded today). Most are slated to graduate in the next two years with a BSN degree in nursing, with plans to work locally. SNAC also has granted six scholarships to regional nursing faculty pursuing doctorate degrees in nursing. Despite the shortage, nursing schools have had to turn away tens of thousands of qualified applicants each year because they lack the facilities and faculty to train more BSN students.
“Each year, we are losing our most experienced nurses — highly skilled mentors with decades of organizational and experiential knowledge,” Mauck said. “That’s why our initiatives are focused on helping nurses earn BSNs and higher degrees. The additional education will better prepare RNs for the increasing complexity of medical technologies and treatments and give them the confidence and leadership skills to continually assess and improve clinical practices and care.”In addition to awarding scholarships, SNAC’s initiatives also include:
- Nursing Education Navigator (NEN) – In 2015, SNAC hired a NEN to advise and mentor people interested in a nursing career. From February 2015 through April 2018, the navigator has counseled 845 students/nurses and referred 539 to nursing programs. At least 177 are currently enrolled in accredited nursing school programs.
- Nurse Training Programs – SNAC is helping hospitals and colleges develop and expand programs that provide direct and accelerated pathways for BSN nursing students. Local partners Florida Southwestern State College, Keiser University, State College of Florida/Manatee-Sarasota, and the University of South Florida/Sarasota-Manatee all have created new or expanded curriculums and facilities that are allowing more nurses to enroll in four-year BSN programs in their hometowns this fall.
- Community Support – Foundations supporting the scholarships and related SNAC initiatives include the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, The Patterson Foundation, Burruss Foundation, Florida Blue Foundation, Lela D. Jackson Foundation, Janice S. Kelly Memorial Foundation, Rita B. Lamere Memorial Foundation, and Sarah Greer Mayer Fund of the Community Foundation
About the Suncoast Nursing Action Coalition: SNAC is a regional coalition made up of representatives from health systems, colleges and universities training nurses and community members in a four-county region (Sarasota, Manatee, DeSoto and Charlotte counties). The grassroots group is working with the Florida Action Coalition to develop resources and help implement recommendations from the 2010 Institute of Medicine report: The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, which recommended increasing the percentage of BSN-prepared nurses to 80 percent and doubling the number of nurses with doctorates in the United States by the year 2020, and other actions to improve nurses’ ability to positively influence the outcomes of patients in the nation.