The University of Central Florida (UCF) is $10 million closer in its fight to stop the state’s nursing shortage.
The school announced a new donation Thursday that will be used toward constructing a new, larger nursing school in Lake Nona to churn out more graduates. Dr. Philips Charities gave the money, the largest donation in the UCF College of Nursing’s history.
“Our mission is to give with purpose, and the purpose could not be more clear here — nurses save lives and our community has a great need for more talented nurses. Their hands, minds and hearts impact us all in some way,” said Ken Robinson, president and CEO of Dr. Phillips, Inc., and the Dr. P. Phillips Foundation.
“Dr. Phillips Charities is excited to make this investment in UCF to build a stronger educational ecosystem and a pipeline that will provide nursing talent to our region for generations to come.”
UCF plans to build a $64 million, 90,000-square-foot building equipped with cutting-edge technology and lab space at Lake Nona, the same site as the UCF College of Medicine and the UCF Lake Nona Hospital. The school’s goal is to open in the 2025-26 school year, UCF spokesman Chad Binette said.
To pay for the project, UCF now has acquired $39 million — including $29 million from the state — and is launching a campaign to raise the remaining $30 million.
School officials estimate they have turned down 860 qualified nursing student applicants over the past five years because they simply lacked enough space to educate them near the main campus.
Now, UCF hopes to graduate an additional 150 nurses every year when the bigger building opens that’s double the square footage of the current facilities. UCF estimates about 85% of its nursing graduates work in Florida, and nearly 60% work in Central Florida.
“This is a transformational project that has wide-reaching impact for our region, and we will need the support of our entire community to help us reach our goal of educating more Knight nurses to positively impact more patient lives, and guide 21st-century healthcare,” UCF’s nursing dean Mary Lou Sole said earlier this year.
Calling the situation a crisis, the Florida Hospital Association has warned the state will be short nearly 60,000 nurses by 2035.
Some in the health care industry argue more needs to be done to keep nurses from burning out and leaving the profession.