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New advisory board will see to Florida nurses’ well-being

Bill DeYoung

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It’s National Nurses Week – and May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Fittingly, a new state-wide, multidisciplinary advisory board will soon work on behalf of a group under tremendous amounts of stress on a daily basis, Florida’s nurses. Its stated mission is to “prioritize the well-being of current and future nurses in Florida.”

According to a November 2022 study from the American Nurses Foundation and Joslin Insight, 64% of nurses reported feeling stressed, and 57% exhausted.

You can’t pour from an empty cup”: Rayna Letourneau is executive director of the Florida Center for Nurses. Photo provided.

“The pandemic exacerbated the problems that nurses have faced for years,” said Rayna Letourneau, executive director of the Tampa-based Florida Center for Nursing (FCN). “Those problems include mental health issues, physical exhaustion, burnout, high rates of turnover within nursing. It’s essential that we are going to support our nurses in Florida, keeping them healthy in order for them to be able to offer the high quality of care that the patients and the visitors across Florida deserve.”

ThE FCN Advisory Board, she explained, will be diverse: “We want our board to be made up of people with many roles: Nurses absolutely, other healthcare workers, our colleagues across the healthcare industry, but we’re also looking for business and industry partners. Lawmakers, educators and, very importantly, consumers.

“The reason we’re looking to put this board together: We recognize the health and wellness of nurses, and our nursing workforce, is a complex problem. There’s no simple solution. And so we really want to make sure that we have the perspectives of a diverse group that will bring together their expertise, their skills, their backgrounds, to help provide the FCN with recommended systemic changes.”

There are more than 440,000 nurses in Florida, FCN reports, and 20,000 nursing students graduate each year. A 2021 Florida Hospitals Association estimate predicted there will a shortage of 59,000 nurses in Florida by 2035.

“We have research,” explained Letourneau, “from before the pandemic that shows about two-thirds of nurses put the needs of others ahead of themselves. We’re looking at this advisory board to move our state, and change the culture for the nursing workforce. Really ensuring that our nursing workforce will take care of themselves. It’s like that saying ‘You can’t pour from an empty cup.’ Nurses need to care for themselves so that they can provide high-quality care.”

It’s not as easy as giving nurses more days off, she said. “‘Days off’ could be one specific initiative for us to address, but I really think the problem is more complex than that. What else do nurses need? What else do we need with our workforce? How do we create healthy work environments for our nurses?

“But it doesn’t stop at the individual, and that’s why we need the expertise of this board, because of the complexity of the problem. Yes, it’s an individual’s responsibility to care for themselves, but it’s also an organization’s responsibility to provide that healthy work environment where the individual can flourish and thrive while they’re doing their work.”

Those interested in board membership are invited to apply here.

The Florida Center for Nursing is established under state statute (F.S. 464.0195) to research and address issues of supply and demand for nursing, including issues of recruitment, retention, and utilization of nurse workforce resources. For more information: flcenterfornursing.org

 

 

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