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AdventHealth bolsters nursing workforce with 10,000 RNs hired since 2020

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ORLANDO, Fla., May 7, 2024 — Four years after a global pandemic rocked the health care industry and exacerbated a nationwide nursing shortage, AdventHealth celebrates a major milestone: 10,000 registered nurses hired across its Central Florida hospitals and health care locations since 2020.

“We knew we needed to make recruitment and retention our organization’s top priority, and so we pledged to invest in our team members like never before and sought to inspire and mentor a new generation of nurses,” said Cathy Stankiewicz, chief nursing officer for AdventHealth’s hospitals in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties. “We’ve made incredible strides in fortifying our nursing workforce.”

In the Orlando area, AdventHealth has cut RN turnover in half since 2020 and reduced reliance on travel-nurses by 98% since the pandemic’s peak. Additionally, AdventHealth’s hospitals in Flagler, Lake and Volusia counties have successfully reduced turnover by 22% and travel-nurses by 39%.

Hearing directly from RNs about their needs and working together to make meaningful changes was paramount to overcoming the challenges posed by the pandemic and nursing shortage, said Michele Goeb-Burkett, chief nursing officer for AdventHealth’s hospitals in Flagler, Lake and Volusia counties.

The health system convened focus groups and formed a Nursing Advisory Panel of frontline nurses that hospital leaders could go to for input. Bedside nurses also serve on the hospital’s regional policy committee and local unit councils and are surveyed companywide.

Those conversations led AdventHealth to address the issues most important to nurses, including:

  • Pay: More than $100 million invested in nursing pay and bonus initiatives
  • Education: Nearly $40 million provided in tuition assistance for all team members since 2020
  • Mental health support: AdventHealth began offering resources for all team members to have 24/7 access to mental health professionals and on-site, hospital-based mental health consultants.
  • Work intensity: The health system has recruited 4,110 patient care technicians and 930 licensed practical nurses since 2020 to ensure registered nurses have the support they need to focus on the hospital’s most acute patients and practice at the top of their license. AdventHealth was also among the first health care providers in Central Florida to pilot virtual nurses to assist bedside nurses with admissions and discharges in inpatient units and the ER.

Recruiting and training new RNs and continuing to advocate for investments in nursing education is also key.

“As our communities continue to grow, so does the need for more caregivers,” said Goeb-Burkett. “Our team found creative and innovative ways to enhance the entire nursing experience and support the sustainability of the local health care workforce, bringing even more clinicians to our communities and enabling us to deliver on our promise of providing high-quality, compassionate care.”

Through partnerships with Central Florida nursing schools, dedicated education units have opened at AdventHealth’s hospitals in Orlando, Winter Park, Altamonte Springs, Apopka, Kissimmee, Tavares and Palm Coast, with more on the way. Students from Jacksonville University, Lake-Sumter State College, Seminole State College, UCF, Valencia and other schools who enrolled in the education units have had the opportunity to learn one-on-one from AdventHealth’s experienced nurses, gaining real-world experience working on a hospital unit.

“We’ve built a genuine classroom-to-career pipeline. Already, 400 students have come through AdventHealth’s dedicated education units, with many being hired as full-time nurses,” said Goeb-Burkett.

The health system expanded recruitment efforts in local high schools, across the United States and internationally, and has invested $15.5 million in dozens of Florida nursing schools. Just last year, AdventHealth committed $5 million toward the University of Central Florida’s College of Nursing and $900,000 to create a permanent endowment at Daytona State College’s Bob and Carol Allen School of Nursing.

The health system also continues to expand the footprint of its own nursing school at AdventHealth University. AHU is committed to tripling its nursing student enrollment to more than 1,200 by 2030 and recently launched an accelerated Associate of Science in Nursing degree that can take less than two years to complete. AdventHealth University also just announced an additional nursing instruction site in Tampa that’s slated to open in January 2025.

About National Nurses Week (May 6-12)

Since 1954, National Nurses Week has served as a reminder of the inspiring and life-saving work nurses do every day. Coinciding with the birthday of Florence Nightingale, caretaker of wounded soldiers during the Crimean War and founder of modern-day nursing, National Nurses Week is an opportunity to recognize the nurses who care for our community.

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