New Scholarships Help Combat Florida's Nursing Shortage

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It's no secret Florida has experienced a nursing shortage for some time. Some estimate Florida will need close to 45,000 additional nurses by the year 2012.

"The hospitals have expressed to us that they are in a severe shortage. Tallahassee Memorial Hospital, last semester, expressed they had 96 openings for registered nurses," says Joan Goss, Director of Tallahassee Community College's Nursing Program.

She feels nurses currently in the field are getting older and retiring, which means more and more replacements are needed.

"I've worked part-time in a hospital and it's really hard when you don't have the staff to cover the patients you have. Each nurse has to take on more patients, and it's really hard on them," says TCC nursing student Andrea Russell.

To combat the shortage community colleges in Florida will receive $250,000 a piece. The money will go toward scholarships for students pursuing degrees in nursing and allied health.

"It's going to help the program because it's going to allow more students to attend that wouldn't normally attend," says TCC adjunct professor Michael Morgan.

The money comes from a $2.5 million endowment established by Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Florida, money that was matched by the Florida Legislature.

The hope is that this money will help prepare students to address one of Florida's critical
workforce needs.

The Blue Cross-Blue Shield scholarship is projected to finance 200 students annually.