Two of Florida’s leading healthcare systems and Florida’s leading producer of nursing talent are uniting to address the state’s nursing shortage.
Fueled by US$10 million in combined commitments from AdventHealth and Orlando Health, the University of Central Florida (UCF) College of Nursing has moved a major step closer to a new building at Lake Nona that will enable the college to graduate hundreds of additional nurses annually who will care for patients throughout the region and state. The new building will also expand the college’s capacity to educate future nursing faculty members who are needed to teach the nurses of tomorrow.
As UCF’s inaugural Pegasus Partners, AdventHealth and Orlando Health have each committed US$5 million to support those much-needed efforts as well as to provide tuition assistance and additional paid internships for UCF nursing students.
“AdventHealth and Orlando Health have been valued, transformative partners to UCF as we collaborate to support the health and well-being of our community,” UCF President Alexander N. Cartwright said. “Their continued partnership and generous investment in UCF’s College of Nursing will make a difference in our region for generations to come.”
AdventHealth and Orlando Health employ more than 12,000 nurses combined at a total of 34 hospitals across Central Florida. Both systems will rely on UCF to help prepare the additional talent they need to combat the national nursing shortage and expand their workforces.
“Ensuring we have well-educated, highly trained, and skilled nurses to meet Florida’s growing healthcare needs is a pressing challenge for the entire healthcare sector,” Randy Haffner, CEO of AdventHealth Florida, said. “Partnering with leading educational institutions such as UCF is absolutely vital to ensuring these efforts are successful.”
“Like many healthcare systems across the state and the nation, Orlando Health constantly evaluates and adjusts strategies in order to deliver exceptional patient care,” said Karen Frenier, senior vice president for human resources and chief nurse executive at Orlando Health. “We are excited about our long-term partnership with UCF as we continue to strategically plan nursing workforce opportunities for the future.”
In addition to contributing to the new building, each hospital’s gift will support student success with the creation of a scholars’ program named in their honor. Each of those programs will provide tuition assistance to 10 senior nursing students annually and establish a paid summer internship program for an additional 10 to 15 students annually.
“Our longstanding partnerships with AdventHealth and Orlando Health have a wide-reaching impact on the community, from supporting a quality education of our students who join the workforce and provide compassionate, skilled care to funding faculty research and innovation to improve outcomes,” Mary Lou Sole, dean of the UCF College of Nursing, said. “We are extremely thankful to these leading health systems for their commitment to UCF and their generous gifts to fuel the future. Together, we will continue to make our Central Florida communities healthier.”
UCF currently graduates more newly licensed RNs annually than any other institution in the State University System, with approximately 260 nurses entering the workforce each year. Almost all of them — 85 percent of the 16,000 nursing alumni — live and work in Florida.
Last year, the College of Nursing added 100 students beyond its usual enrollment to help keep pace with the state’s demand for new nurses. The new building is needed for the additional enrollment growth, and when complete, the 90,000-square-foot (8,360-square-meter) building will be large enough for the college to increase enrollment by at least 50 percent to make a much bigger impact in helping to alleviate the state’s nursing shortage.
UCF continues to seek philanthropic investments in the new building as they near the goal of raising US$70 million needed to break ground on the College of Nursing. US$26.2 million has been raised through philanthropy to-date, which will be combined with US$43.7 million committed by the State of Florida to support the region and guide 21st-century health care.