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A nursing reboot: Jobs are on the rise in Florida

The number of jobs for RNs in Florida increased 14.78% between 2012 and 2021 to 187,920.
 
Medical Assistant Cassandra Ross prepares Natalie Rosales, 7, to receive a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, while Nurse Jordan Dierksheide holds her arm during a vaccination event hosted by Enterprising Latinas at Wimauma Opportunity Center in Wimauma on Sunday, Nov. 14, 2021. Vacancy rates for hospital RNs have dropped from 21% in 2022 to 13% in 2023, and turnover dropped from 32% to 20% over the same period.
Medical Assistant Cassandra Ross prepares Natalie Rosales, 7, to receive a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, while Nurse Jordan Dierksheide holds her arm during a vaccination event hosted by Enterprising Latinas at Wimauma Opportunity Center in Wimauma on Sunday, Nov. 14, 2021. Vacancy rates for hospital RNs have dropped from 21% in 2022 to 13% in 2023, and turnover dropped from 32% to 20% over the same period. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published Nov. 29, 2023|Updated Nov. 29, 2023

This story originally appeared in Florida Trend Magazine.

The past several years have been challenging ones for Florida’s nurses. Prior to the pandemic in 2019, the state had a shortage of about 11,500 registered nurses and RN education programs were struggling to increase capacity because of a lack of faculty, funding and other campus resources.

Nurse shortages skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Amid the stress and trauma on the frontlines, some hospital nurses chose to retire early. Some left their permanent jobs to take lucrative positions as travel nurses, working on short-term contracts. Others left the hospital bedside to take positions away from the intensity of hospital care or left the profession completely.

All the churn resulted in the highest vacancy and turnover rates for hospital RNs ever recorded by the Florida Hospital Association, which tracks such data.

Three years later, there are signs of a rebound. Vacancy rates for hospital RNs have dropped from 21% in 2022 to 13% in 2023, and turnover dropped from 32% to 20% over the same period. “We lead the country in our improvement in both the reduction of those numbers and where those numbers currently are,” says Mary Mayhew, president and CEO of the Florida Hospital Association.

But challenges remain. As Florida’s population booms, so does the demand for health care — and the greying of the state, as Baby Boomers age, will require thousands more nurses than the 326,669 licensed RNs the state has today.

With that in mind, here’s a closer look at Florida’s nurse workforce and what hospitals, state universities and colleges, and lawmakers are doing to reboot it.

Nurse Snapshot:

  • 326,669 — Active RN licenses in Florida
  • 69,511 — Active LPN licenses in Florida
  • 45,181 — Active Advanced Practice Nurse Practitioners (APRN) licenses in Florida
  • 87% — Female
  • 57.9% — White
  • 17.3% — Black
  • 15.5% — Hispanic
  • 5.6% — Asian
  • 0.2% — Indigenous
  • 61.8% — Florida RNs working in hospitals. The second and third most common workplace settings are elderly care (8.4%) and home health (6.5%).
  • 7.2% — Florida RNs who plan to leave the profession or retire in the next five years.
  • 84.8% — The growth in nursing faculty jobs in Florida between 2012 and 2021. Average annual wages for faculty were $76,835 in 2021, down from a high of $122,052 in 2019.
Patient Dominique Davenport, 13, of St. Petersburg, center, and Registered Nurse Brooke Miller, 23, right, walk around the halls of Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital’s cardiovascular intensive care unit Friday, Feb. 10, 2023 in St. Petersburg. Prior to the pandemic in 2019, the state had a shortage of about 11,500 registered nurses and RN education programs were struggling to increase capacity because of a lack of faculty, funding and other campus resources.
Patient Dominique Davenport, 13, of St. Petersburg, center, and Registered Nurse Brooke Miller, 23, right, walk around the halls of Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital’s cardiovascular intensive care unit Friday, Feb. 10, 2023 in St. Petersburg. Prior to the pandemic in 2019, the state had a shortage of about 11,500 registered nurses and RN education programs were struggling to increase capacity because of a lack of faculty, funding and other campus resources. [ CHRIS URSO | Times ]

LPNs:

  • Average Hourly Wage: $18.96 (entry); $25.04 (experienced)
  • Demand: The number of jobs for LPNS in Florida decreased by 12.2% between 2012 and 2021 to 37,740.
  • Growth: Employment is projected to grow 12.6% between 2022 and 2030.

RNs:

  • Average Hourly Wage: $26.50 (entry); $38.67 (experienced)
  • Demand: The number of jobs for RNs in Florida increased 14.78% between 2012 and 2021 to 187,920.
  • Growth: Employment is projected to grow 12.2% between 2022 and 2030.

An Aging Workforce

The average age of an LPN, RN and nurse practitioner in Florida is 48, 46 and 45, respectively. Nearly 43% of the state’s nurses are age 50 or older.

  • 11.2% — 29 or younger
  • 24.6% — 30 to 39
  • 21.5% — 40 to 49
  • 21.1% — 50 to 59
  • 21.6% — 60 or older