TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -
Previous legislation to expand nursing programs and alleviate Florida's nursing shortage has had unintended consequences, finds the latest Economic Commentary from Florida TaxWatch, the state's premier non-partisan government watchdog.
In 2009, the Florida Legislature passed legislation to increase the number of nursing programs in response to concerns of a nursing shortage. While the change doubled the number of nursing education programs, many of the programs established since the 2009 change are failing to provide a robust nursing education.
To be employed as a nurse, new graduates must pass the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX). The report states that 42 percent of nursing programs in Florida had NCLEX pass rates lower than the national average, of which 78.7 percent were new programs under the 2009 law. Valuable education dollars are squandered as failure to pass the NCLEX makes nursing degrees useless
"Ensuring that nursing students are adequately prepared for the NCLEX and the profession should be the number one goal of every program in the state. Unfortunately, too many are letting their students fall behind," said Florida TaxWatch President and CEO Dominic M. Calabro. "Florida TaxWatch encourages students to cautiously evaluate programs before registering and for the Legislature to continue to look for ways to strengthen nursing education."
"Florida TaxWatch is absolutely correct that to assure an adequate, qualified nurse workforce, there must be a supply of qualified faculty to sustain the flow of nursing graduates prepared to successfully achieve status as a licensed nurse," said Florida Center for Nursing Executive Director Mary Lou Brunell. "The Florida Center for Nursing looks forward to assisting in an objective evaluation of Florida's nursing education programs."
Governor Scott signed CS/CS/HB 543 recently into law, ensuring that programs on probation inform students of their probationary status, in addition to giving the Board of Nursing more oversight authority and specifies that terminated programs must wait three years before applying to reopen. Florida TaxWatch applauds these much-needed reforms and encourages the continued evaluation of nursing programs to assure our future nurses are up to the task of providing high quality care for all Floridians.