SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – Central Florida needs more nurses.
That’s according to a group of leaders from regional hospitals and healthcare organizations. One member of that group is Dr. Cheryl Cicotti, dean of nursing for Seminole State College.
"We need 1,000 more graduates in our area just to take care of our population,” Cicotti said.
Based on planned growth and expansions in the region there will be close to 8,400 openings in the region by 2023.
Sarah McNally, a nursing student with Seminole State and a mother of two, said when she decided to change careers she needed flexibility and online courses were essential.
"It's scary to think about going back to school, it's a drain, it takes a lot of time and effort, but it's worth it,” McNally said.
According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, nursing school enrollment is not growing fast enough.
"You think about the baby boomers are retiring, so we know that about 25 percent of nurses will retire in the next five years. That's a huge hit, “ Cicotti said. "Then we have more and more elderly living longer, think of all the new hospitals we have in town, and the freestanding emergency clinics. They all need nurses."
Seminole State College is working to get results and meet the demand for more registered nurses by expanding their associate degree program and offering a baccalaureate degree next spring.
"I think this is a long-term fix, you know we're planning this over five years to increase enrollments at all the schools here in Central Florida so it is, we still have a shortage now, yes, but will we address it over the long term? You better believe it,” Cicotti said.