Megan Miller, far right, says nursing shortages have created more opportunities for new grads.
Economic Backbone: Pediatrics
Nursing shortages are taking a toll on all specialties, including pediatrics. In a conversation with FLORIDA TREND, a new nursing graduate and an assistant nursing professor shared their perspectives on the ongoing crisis and other trends in pediatric nursing and nurse education.
Miller is a recent graduate of University of West Florida’s School of Nursing. She works at Sacred Heart Hospital’s pediatric unit in Pensacola.
“As a new graduate, the nursing shortage is something I asked about in my interviews just to see what kind of nurse-to-patient ratios are in hospitals today. It’s definitely something to consider, but the current nurse shortage in pediatrics also helps someone like me. It’s given me more opportunities to find a job as a nurse than a graduate 10 years ago.”
“I think it’s great that nursing schools are offering students accelerated programs that will help address the nursing shortage. It’s crazy how you hear about nursing shortages and that schools can’t pump out enough nurses quickly enough. Part of the problem is that many nursing schools are having a hard time finding enough teachers and professors.”
- Shortfall and Salaries
According to the Florida Hospital Association, Florida needs more than 60,000 nurses by 2035 to meet the state's projected health care needs. The average salary for a new graduate RN in Florida was $64,693 as of May 2023, with the range falling between $58,033 and $73,954.
- Licensed Docs
While Florida had 4,743 licensed pediatricians in 2021 — 21.6 per 100,000 residents — 18 of the state’s 67 counties had zero pediatricians. Nineteen counties had no OB/GYNs.
Morris is a pediatric board-certified nurse practitioner and assistant professor of clinical practice at the University of West Florida.
“In a specialty area such as pediatrics, it's very difficult today to find nurses. What we’re seeing, especially now after COVID-19, is a lot of nursing burnout and early retirements. But I really think the main reason there’s a nursing shortage, and that includes pediatrics, is pay. In general, nurses don't feel like they're being well compensated for what they do, and they realize they could actually make more money elsewhere, outside of health care.”
“We’re also seeing lower student enrollment numbers in our pediatric nursing program because many of our prospective students are full-time nurses who want to go back to school but cannot because they have to work overtime due to the overall nursing shortage.”
“Mental health is probably one of the biggest concerns in pediatrics and, of course, that has been on the increase with the use of social media and online bullying. It’s a big problem and is really affecting the mental and physical health of our youth, and we’re seeing this more and more in pediatric nursing.”