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Suncoast Nursing Action Coalition Addresses Local Nursing Shortage

Posted on May 10, 2018 by SNAC Community and Communications Team
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.

As the nation’s retiree population continues to swell and medical technology and therapies become more complex, the demand for highly trained nurses is reaching a critical tipping point.

The situation is perhaps most grim in Florida, where thousands of nurses are retiring just as baby boomers are starting to need more care. With fewer experienced nurses available, some forecasts show the state could face a shortage of RNs capable of crippling the state’s health care system by 2025.

That’s the driving force behind the Suncoast Nursing Action Coalition and significant investments it is making to ensure continued access to safe, high-quality health care on the Suncoast. The grassroots group of local hospital, nursing, academic, and community leaders have been working over the past two years on wide-ranging initiatives to educate, recruit, and retain nurses in Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte, and Desoto counties.

“We need to create a robust pipeline of highly trained nurses today to ensure we can continue providing optimal care for patients in the near future,” said Jan Mauck, the former chief nursing officer at Sarasota Memorial Health Care System and the founder of SNAC. “The career pathways we are developing are designed to produce not only more bachelor-prepared nurses at the bedside, but also more nurses with doctorate degrees in academic, research, and leadership settings.”

As a regional workgroup of the Florida Action Coalition, SNAC is one of dozens of coalitions working across the nation to increase the number of highly trained nurses in the United States – particularly those with bachelor’s degrees and faculty nurses to prepare them.

Flanked by more than 20 community partners from area hospitals and nursing schools, Mauck said SNAC chose National Nurses Week (May 6-12) to announce some initiatives and steps it is taking locally to ensure a highly trained nursing workforce.

“There is no better time to recognize the importance of the nursing profession and its ability to positively influence the health of our community,” Mauck said.

Some of SNAC’s initiatives include:
  • Nursing Scholarships – In the past two years, SNAC has awarded $214,000 in nursing scholarships to 58 local recipients. Most are slated to graduate with bachelors or doctorate degrees in nursing within two years and have plans to work and teach in the Suncoast region.

  • Nurse Education Navigator – SNAC hired a nurse navigator in 2015 to advise and mentor prospective nursing students and nurses interested in becoming teachers. 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.

  • More BSN training programs – SNAC partners from Florida Southwestern State College; Keiser University; State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota; and the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee campus are creating new – and expanding existing nursing programs – that will allow more nurses to complete four-year bachelor’s (BSN) degrees in their hometown (rather than transfer to other communities to complete their BSN training.)
Community support has been key to SNAC’s success. Local foundations that have supported SNAC 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 the Sarah Greer Mayer Fund of the Community Foundation.

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