The year 2002 marks the 20th anniversary of the founding of Florida International University (FIU) School of Nursing in Miami. But instead of celebrating this milestone year by blowing out candles and partying, the school has embarked on an ambitious, multifaceted year-long campaign to address South Florida’s severe nursing shortage—the worst in over 10 years—and to increase the representation of minorities in the region’s nursing workforce to better reflect the cultural diversity of its patient population.
This special 20th anniversary campaign, Solving the Nursing Shortage Through Excellence and Opportunity, encompasses a wide variety of initiatives, including:
• Reaching out to high school students and college freshmen to attract them to nursing careers.
• Partnering with area hospitals and health organizations to develop new targeted educational opportunities at the nursing school, such as an LPN-to-BSN program, a master’s-level nurse anesthetist program, and scholarships for financially needy students and high school students interested in nursing.
• Tackling the school’s shortage of PhD-level nursing faculty through staffing grants, research grants and aggressive faculty recruiting programs.
Several of the campaign’s most exciting strategies are aimed specifically at attracting more racial and ethnic minorities into nursing. For example:
• The PRIDE Project (Pre-entry Recruitment and Individualized Diversity Enhancement). Funded by a $753,000 federal training grant from HRSA’s Division of Nursing, this initiative focuses on the recruitment and retention of local high school students of color into the BSN program at FIU. The university will provide the students with counseling, mentoring and support to help them successfully enter and complete the nursing program.
• Foreign Physician-Nursing Program. Launched in May, this unique program—which FIU hopes will become a national model–is designed to tap an underutilized source of qualified nurses: foreign doctors who have immigrated to Florida but are not licensed to practice in the U.S. More than 450 physicians—most of them from Cuba, Haiti, Latin America and the Caribbean—have applied for the program, in which the students complete a five-semester “fast-track” version of the school’s BSN program. The project is funded by a $600,000 gift from four local hospitals.
The driving force behind Florida International University’s 20th anniversary campaign is the School of Nursing’s director, Divina Grossman, RN, PhD, ARNP, FAAN, who is of Filipino descent. “Minority populations are disproportionately affected by morbidity and mortality as a result of inadequate access to health care,” she comments. “Increasing the diversity of the nursing workforce is crucial to improving the health of the increasingly diverse community which is South Florida.”
For more information about the Solving the Shortage initiative, visit the school’s Web site at www.fiu.edu/~nursing.
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