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AdventHealth hires 10,000 nurses in four years ahead of state shortage

AdventHealth Orlando Hospital
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AdventHealth Orlando Hospital

Facing a forecasted shortage of 60,000 nursing positions, AdventHealth Central Florida is actively improving its workforce to meet those future needs. Since 2020, the hospital has hired 10,000 nurses.

A 2021 study by the Florida Hospital Association found the demand for nurses is set to increase dramatically by 2035 due in part to a 21% increase in population, and more specifically an increase in aging populations.

In 2019, the FHA study found the nurse supply was about 11,500 registered nurses lower than the state demand, as well as 5,600 licensed practical nurses lower than the demand.. If the trend holds, the projected shortfall is 37,400 RN and 21,700 LPNS shy of the state’s need.

Contributing to the problem is a national turnover rate as high as 25% for nurses, according to the National Library of Medicine.

Addressing Turnover

In 2021, at the height of AdventHealth’s turnover rate, the hospital experienced 23% turnover largely due to the high demands of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, that number is down to 16%

Recognizing the shortfall on the horizon, AdventHealth leaders have been actively improving its work environment by asking nurses directly what they need to stay in the profession, said Cathy Stankiewicz, the hospital’s chief nursing officer.

“We know that there's a lot of information about there that we will experience a workforce shortage. And we know in Central Florida we are a growing community. So those two things together have pushed us to think differently about the future to partner with our communities in different ways,” Stankiewicz said.

After forming focus groups, the health system formed the Nursing Advisory Panel for input. Nurses stated that they were interested in higher pay and furthering their education. As a result, AdventHealth invested $100 million in nursing benefits and pay, as well as $40 million in furthering education.

Improving the pipeline

A lack of new nursing students entering education programs is also part of the problem with the projected shortfall. The FHA found the estimated statewide LPN program vacancy rate of approximately 26%, with 40% of programs citing a lack of qualified student applicants, 38% citing limited clinical sites, 23% citing a lack of campus resources, and 23% citing a lack of funds to hire faculty as barriers to maximizing program capacity.

“To address projected shortages by the year 2035, an additional 2,300 RNs and 1,700 LPNs would need to enter the workforce each year,” FHA stated in a press release.

Stankiewicz said AdventHealth has considered this as well. The hospital system invested $15 million in schools around the Central Florida area to bolster the nursing pipeline, including $5 million in a nursing ward simulation center at the University of Central Florida and $900,000 to create a permanent endowment at Daytona State College’s Bob and Carol Allen School of Nursing.

“I'm very confident that we have a very strong pipeline, that we are not going to be in a position where we are vulnerable to the impacts of the shortage,” Stankiewicz said.

Stankiewicz says the hospital has also invested in mental health support and implemented changes to lighten work intensity. Adventhealth has hired over 4,000 patient care techs and 900 LPNs to aid RNs.

Originally from South Florida, Joe Mario came to Orlando to attend the University of Central Florida where he graduated with degrees in Radio & Television Production, Film, and Psychology. He worked several beats and covered multimedia at The Villages Daily Sun but returned to the City Beautiful as a reporter for the Orlando Sentinel where he covered crime, hurricanes, and viral news. Joe Mario has too many interests and not enough time but tries to focus on his love for strange stories in comic books and horror movies. When he's not writing he loves to run in his spare time.
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