At Monday's Palms West Chamber of Commerce luncheon, Palms West Hospital's Director of Nursing Silvia Stradi spoke about the state of the nursing profession locally and statewide.Stradi
said chamber members may not typically think about nursing or health care when they come to a business event, but she
wanted to give them a better perspective on a growing and vibrant profession.
To start her
related the story about an elderly couple - a woman with Alzheimer's disease and a man who was to have surgery.They had been placed in separate rooms at Palms West Hospital
.The woman got worse, and her
children asked if her
husband could come visit her
.The nursing staff went one step further, and placed them together so that the husband was a comfort to his
wife as she
said that she
told this story not to make everyone sad, but to give insight into what nurses do in conjunction with other hospital staff members.
Nurses provide direct care to patients in physical, emotional, psychological, supportive and spiritual ways, Stradi
said, but they don't do it alone.They are part of the hospital team, composed of physicians, licensed practical nurses, physical therapists, nursing assistants, case managers, respiratory therapists and others.Although the doctors assume part of the care of the patient, nurses maintain overall responsibility because they are there around the clock, Stradi
said.Nurses assess the patient and pick up on any nuances or changes and report those to the doctors.The nurses plan for and implement patient care and help with post-operative recovery, all while constantly evaluating what they have done to see if any changes are needed.
A total of 169,489 licensed nurses were reported in Florida in 2001.By 2002, that number had grown to 176,113 - meaning that about 7,000 nurses were added to the profession statewide over a one-year period.Stradi
said that Florida ranked 31st in the number of RNs per 100,000 population, and the average age of nurses in Florida is 47.3, compared to the national average 43.3 - the nursing population is aging just like its patients.She
said that the top challenge facing nursing schools is having more applicants than available resources, with some schools reporting four times more applicants than spaces available, and an insufficient number of faculty, clinical sites, classroom space and clinical preceptors.
However, efforts are underway at both the state level and at the hospital level to turn the tide and increase the number of nurses coming into the profession, Stradi
explained.Statewide, the Florida Nursing Shortage Solutions Act was passed in 2002 to make it easier for students to repay loans and established a nursing scholarship program, she
noted.The Florida Center for Nursing
also was established to help people go into the profession, and the Sunshine Workforce Grant offers exploratory programs as early as middle school to develop an interest in nursing.The Palm Healthcare Foundation
, established two years ago as an independent community healthcare foundation, has committed over $3 million to combating the nursing shortage, Stradi
said.Among the efforts are a partnership with Palms West Hospital
for a number of activities including nursing scholarships, celebration of Nurses' Week in May, summits, dinners, workshops and efforts to reward and retain nurses.Stradi
noted that the Palm Healthcare Foundation
is working with schools and colleges to put together weekend and evening classes for interested adults who are already working. Palms West Hospital
also offers tuition reimbursement for anyone interested in nursing and has established other programs to retain good people and keep them interested in the nursing profession."We want to continue to promote the positive image of nursing," Stradi