According to the Florida Center for Nursing, by the end of 2015 the state is expected to see a shortage of 11,000 RNs, and by 2025, this deficit could be as high as 50,000. As of 2013, there were an estimated 9,000 vacant RN positions available to qualified nursing program graduates statewide.
According to a recent article in the Jacksonville Business Journal, Florida’s nursing schools are “ramping up their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) programs” as a way to stem this shortage.
Although the minimum educational requirement for RN licensure in Florida is a two-year diploma or associate degree, the Center for Nursing found that some 71 percent of Florida’s hospitals are focusing their recruitment efforts on BSN-prepared nurses, particularly at a time when many facilities are striving to achieve Magnet status (a national nursing credential recognizing facilities that demonstrate nursing excellence).
Besides being able to take on more clinical responsibilities, bachelor-prepared RNs in Florida are eligible for advanced RN positions in such areas as research, management, public health, and case management. Further, RNs with aspirations of working as nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, certified nurse-midwives, and certified registered nurse anesthetists must complete a master’s degree in nursing, which requires first achieving a BSN.
According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), there were 10,299 students enrolled in Florida BSN degree programs in 2013. However, during the same period, the AACN reported that 5,564 qualified applicants were turned away from these programs, primarily due to a lack of faculty and classroom space.
The Florida Board of Nursing is responsible for qualifying and licensing nurses in the State.
Pre-Licensure Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree Programs in Florida
Because of limited space in many BSN programs in Florida, online BSN programs are becoming increasingly popular. Both on-campus and distance learning programs provide students with a comprehensive curriculum that is designed to complement clinical experiences through local healthcare institutions.
Florida is home to 53 pre-licensure BSN programs, which are located in areas such as:
- Daytona Beach
- Palm Bay
- West Palm Beach
- Winter Park
Curriculum Requirements for BSN Programs
The Florida Board of Nursing requires that all approved BSN programs include a curriculum plan that consists of clinical experiences and theoretical instruction in medical, surgical, obstetrics, pediatric, geriatric, and psychiatric nursing.
The first half of a BSN program consists of lower division courses, such as general education and pre-professional courses, followed by a second half of upper division nursing courses and clinical experiences.
Most BSN programs require students to first complete general education courses (most requiring a minimum GPA) before they can be admitted into the nursing program and begin study in the nursing core curriculum.
General education/pre-professional requirements include study in:
- Social and behavioral science
- Physical or biological sciences
- Anatomy and physiology
- Human growth and development
Core nursing coursework in a BSN program includes study in:
- Nursing science
- Foundations of nursing care
- Health assessment and health promotion
- Patient-centered care
- Adult/elderly nursing
- Behavioral health nursing
- Baby and women’s health nursing
- Parent/child nursing
- Community/public health nursing
- Biomedical ethics
- Research and evidence-based practice
- Nursing leadership and management
Clinical Requirements for BSN Programs
The Florida Board of Nursing requires approved BSN curriculum plans to document clinical training experiences in appropriate settings, such as acute care, long-term care, and community settings.
Just a few of the Florida hospitals through which pre-licensure BSN students may complete their clinical experience requirements include:
- All Children’s Hospital, St. Petersburg
- Baptist Hospital, Pensacola
- Broward Health Medical Center, Fort Lauderdale
- Cape Coral Hospital, Cape Coral
- Florida A&M Hospital, Tallahassee
- Florida Hospital for Children, Orlando
- Florida State Hospital, Chattahoochee
RN Licensure for BSN Graduates in Florida
Upon graduation from a Board of Nursing-approved BSN program, individuals may apply for a Florida RN license, which requires completing an online application through Medical Quality Assurance Services.
Once the application for RN licensure has been completed and submitted, applicants must then schedule an electronic fingerprint appointment with a Livescan service provider and complete the fingerprinting process.
Once the Board receives both the application and proof of fingerprinting, an application specialist begins the review process and determines if all eligibility requirements have been met. If all requirements have been met, the Board sends out an eligibility letter to qualified applicants, along with instructions regarding how to register with Pearson Vue to take the NCLEX-RN, a national examination required for RN licensure in Florida.
Applicants may take the NCLEX-RN at any one of the many Pearson Vue testing centers in the U.S. In Florida, testing centers are located in:
- Port Charlotte
- Altamonte Springs
All RNs in Florida must renew their licenses biennially in order to maintain the right to practice.
Nurse Residency Programs in Florida for Newly Licensed RNs
Nurse residency programs in Florida, which are designed to facilitate the transition from student to professional nurse, provide newly licensed RNs with mentorship, guidance, and support as they begin their nursing careers in Florida’s many hospital systems.
Some of the hospitals in Florida that offer nurse residency programs include:
- Florida Medical Center, Ft. Lauderdale
- Palms of Pasadena Hospital, South Pasadena
- Shriners Hospital for Children Florida
- Tallahassee Memorial Health Care, Tallahassee
- Sarasota Memorial Healthcare System, Sarasota
- Munroe Regional Medical Center, Ocala
- NCH Healthcare System, Naples
- Orlando Health, Orlando
- Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center, Palm Beach