Tallahassee, Florida – Due to a growing population and a lack of medical professionals, Florida is currently facing a significant healthcare challenge. This crisis is drawing increased attention from state lawmakers and healthcare leaders.
The state’s population is expected to increase by nearly 300,000 residents annually for the next five years. This surge in residents is putting immense pressure on the healthcare system. A concerning aspect of this situation is the aging demographic of the state’s full-time doctors. With a third of these doctors over the age of 60, impending retirements are looming. Research indicates a projected shortfall of 18,000 doctors and over 37,000 nurses by 2035.
Dr. Beverly Malone, President and CEO of the National League for Nursing, highlighted the severity of the situation: “We are at a crisis proportion of a shortage and the intensity of that is the nurses we lost due to COVID, due to being burned out, and not enough nurses to care for and the large volume of patients.”
The task of replenishing the healthcare workforce with a new generation of doctors and nurses is daunting. Educational disruptions from the pandemic have led to fewer nurses passing licensing exams. Additionally, training new medical staff is increasingly difficult due to the shortage of trainers. Arthur Wheaton, Director of Labor Studies at Cornell University, points out, “If you’re already short-staffed, having a new trainee or apprentice, or interns, is not easy. It takes a lot more effort and work and finding enough instructors to increase your availability for nursing is also tough.”
Recognizing the urgency of the situation, Florida lawmakers have prioritized addressing this crisis in the upcoming legislative session. Senate President Kathleen Passidomo has urged her colleagues to propose innovative solutions. She emphasizes the need for expanded telemedicine services, increased maternity wards, and a larger workforce to care for the elderly.
Hospital managers have long voiced their concerns to Florida lawmakers, advocating for relaxed regulations and reduced paperwork for nurses. This approach aims to give nurses more time for patient care. Additionally, there is a push for more state support in training nurses within state schools.
As the regular session begins on January 9, lawmakers will deliberate on these and other potential solutions. The goal is to alleviate the growing healthcare crisis in Florida, ensuring that residents have access to the medical care they need in the face of rapid population growth and a dwindling number of healthcare professionals.