by Amy Martinez
Updated 3 months ago
Each year, Florida International University graduates 170 to 175 nurses. About 85% stay and work in Florida, says Ora Strickland, dean of FIU’s Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing and Health Sciences. She spoke to FLORIDA TREND about the effects of COVID-19 on the nursing profession.
Shortage: “There was a nursing shortage even before COVID hit, primarily related to the fact that a lot of nurses were aging out and retiring, and we weren’t producing nurses fast enough to replace them. Then, COVID came along and placed a huge demand on hospitals and the health care system. COVID requires a lot of specialized nursing care to help people pull through. We’re in trouble if we don’t address this issue.”
Emotional Toll: “It’s not only physically demanding to take care of COVID patients, but it’s also emotionally demanding because a lot of these patients die, and you’re their only source of support at their bedside as they’re dying. That’s why nurses are burning out. The job is so demanding that some older nurses are deciding to retire. But there are some retired nurses who’ve decided to come back and help out.”
New Interest: “We have not experienced a drop in the number of applicants who want to become nurses. It has not interfered with our ability to attract potential students. They’re on board; they still want to become nurses. We just can’t turn them out fast enough to meet the demand.”
Faculty Needs: “I believe the state Legislature could help us out by providing more funds for the education of nursing faculty. Most schools of nursing are struggling to find adequately prepared nurses who can teach and train outstanding nurses. The Legislature also could provide scholarships for RNs who want to become nursing faculty. Students who are training to become nursing instructors and professors need financial support. We’re competing with very high salaries in the clinical setting.”
Pay: “During COVID, nursing salaries have really gone up, especially for travel nurses. A new travel nurse can make $5,500 a week. That’s over $280,000 a year. If you’re an experienced ICU nurse, you can make over $10,000 a week — that’s over $500,000 a year — if you’re willing to go the sections of the country where there are real shortages and work with COVID patients.”
Read more in Florida Trend's November issue.
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