TAMPA, Florida. – In recent years there has been an increasing shortage of caregivers nationwide, and the situation has been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The demand for nurses is increasing across the country. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 1.1 million new nurses will be needed by next year, and experts say the deficit will be worst in the west and here in the south.
“It’s definitely a national concern, I would say, even a global concern,” said Dr. Catherine Belden, Assistant Dean of Bachelor Programs at USF Health College of Nursing.
She says the leadership is taking this trend seriously. They hope to reverse the shortage by changing programs and increasing enrollment.
“The changes we are currently implementing are likely a bit overdue,” said Belden. “It will bring more new nurses into the profession immediately.”
Starting this fall, the College of Nursing will discontinue an online program for registered nurses looking to advance their careers and earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
“It doesn’t add extra caregiver to the job,” said Belden. “Having the opportunity to guide and guide new graduates through the admissions process is our best opportunity to increase our numbers in this profession.”
The change will open up more places for students entering the pre-license paths. Enrollments at the USF Tampa campus are expected to increase 20% and double at both the St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee locations.
“So this is a great way to get college students involved and immediately add that pipeline to graduate work,” said Belden.
Officials say with more students enrolling, the number of USF nurses entering careers should increase 24%. A good start to address the nursing staff shortage.