Lack of programs and faculty hampers training of nurses
During the next three years, Florida Hospital will add more than 600 beds to its system in the region, with major additions being built at its main Orlando facility as well as its campuses in east Orlando, Altamonte Springs and Winter Park.
There's one big problem: Adding beds is a lot easier than finding nurses to staff them.
"With the demands of health care, we're having to grow our hospitals and add beds. But the number of nurses applying [for jobs] is about the same," said Kirsten Mattos, nurse recruiter for Florida Hospital Orlando. "It's tough to find nurses with the specialty you're looking for."
It's tough all over, said Kim Streit of the Florida Hospital Association, which has issued an annual survey on nurse staffing since 1988.
Statewide, the percentage of hospitals' unfilled registered-nurse jobs steadily shrank in 2002, 2003 and 2004, after peaking at 15.6 percent in 2001. But preliminary data from the 2005 survey, to be released later this summer, indicates the situation has worsened slightly during the past year, Streit said.
Last year's survey also warned of a projected shortfall of 61,000 nurses statewide by 2020, fueled by the double whammy of older nurses retiring even as the state's population, skewed toward the elderly, continues to grow.
There's time to make up that shortfall, Streit said, but it will have to be done by increasing the supply of nurses. The rising demand is a demographic reality, "based on an aging population with an increasing need for health-care resources."
In 2004, Florida hospitals reported that 8.2 percent of their registered-nurse positions went unfilled. That translated into more than 5,300 unfilled positions at the 118 surveyed hospitals.
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