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Governor announces $125 million for nursing education

DeSantis nursing announcement
Posted at 7:48 AM, May 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-16 21:08:06-04

SANFORD, Fla. — Governor Ron DeSantis announced Monday he will approve $125 million in state funding that will be allocated for Florida nursing education, in an attempt to fight a nursing shortage plaguing the Sunshine State.

He was joined by Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo and Senate President Wilton Simpson.

It comes just days after nurses held rallies at state capitols across the country calling for help. Last Thursday, Florida nurses called on state and federal leaders to give them a break.

"This is something that we take seriously," said DeSantis. "How could I not? My mother was a nurse for over 40 years."

The funding is divided into two programs: "PIPELINE," drawing from $100 million to reward higher education programs for the number of nurses they produce for high-achieving students, and "LINE," a $25 million competitive grant to recruit nursing educators.

"In Florida, we are stepping up to the plate. We are doing, probably, more than any other state in recent times," the governor said.

The effort comes as many nurses left the profession during the pandemic. New research suggests they have a 30% turnover rate in just the first year. Florida expects a shortage of nearly 60,000 nurses by 2035.

Emily Bloom is a nurse-turned advocate with the Florida Nurse Coalition. She led the recent capitol rally and says the money is a start. Her group is seeking better pay, no wage caps, improved patient ratios and laws shielding health workers from violence.

"We definitely need more of them to come into the profession," Bloom said, "but how do we retain them once they're there? That, I think, is what we need to be focusing on more than anything."

Those changes may have to wait. Lawmakers don't return for the regular session until March.

DeSantis will need to sign the budget in order to make the nursing funds official - which he has yet to do. It takes effect July 1.