UWF To Start Training More Nurses
The University of West Florida is about to start turning out a lot more nurses. WUWF’s Bob Barrett spoke to Dr. Ermalynn Kiehl, the Associate Dean of Health, and Chair of the Nursing Department at the UWF about the current Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program at the university, and the planned expansion.
- UWF has a traditional "pre-licensure" BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) program, that is for people who have not been nurses before. It is limited access, which means they have x-number of spots for students in the program. So the university takes all the qualified students and ranks them and then selects the top "whatever number". Currently that number is 60 students. So there are 60 students admitted to the program one time a year. There are many others who have qualified, but because of the limited number of slots were not admitted to the program.
- "Workforce demand" also plays into the numbers. As the population grows and older nurses retire there is a greater need for nurses, "even in our small community".
- The university has approved starting a new cohort of nursing students, beginning January 2016. That new cohort will have about 40 students in it. The students in that first cohort will be selected from the students who have already applied to the program and have qualified, but were not accepted because of the lack of available seats. This will allow UWF to graduate about 100 baccalaureate prepared nurses into the community each year.
- Baccalaureate prepared nurses and Associate Degree nurses take the same licensure test to become RNs. Dr. Kiehl says the difference between the two is Associate Degree nurses are prepared in "bedside nursing. To be in hospital in more of a technical role in taking care of patients. Baccalaureate programs have some additional education. Research, leadership and management skills, community health, evidence based practice projects...so they're really taught a little bit more broadly to look at things like health care outcomes and help determining better ways of improving health care outcomes.
- Many more people have access to health care with the Affordable Care Act, so more nurses and nurse practitioners are needed to fill the growing demand. Also, with the improving national economy, more older nurses are retiring and need to be replaced.
- Another factor is the need for more nursing faculty. Teachers are paid much less than practicing nurses and the current crop of teachers are getting older and nearing retirement. The UWF program is looking to turn out a younger set of nursing faculty that could invigorate nursing programs.