UCF gets $15M in PECO money for new nursing school building
Photo courtesy University of Central Florida.

UCF University of Central Florida
UCF's efforts to train more nurses come as the state is predicted to face a shortage of 59,000 nurses by 2035.

The University of Central Florida (UCF) is helping fight the nursing hiring shortage and is slated to get nearly $15 million from the state’s Public Education Capital Outlay (PECO) funds for those efforts.

The PECO dollars will help the university build a new, larger school of nursing building at its Lake Nona campus near UCF’s medical school.

“We are grateful to the Florida Legislature for including our request for the funding of a new UCF College of Nursing building in their final budget,” said UCF president Alexander Cartwright in a statement this week.

“Our new building will enable us to dramatically increase the number of highly qualified, compassionate Knight nurses serving throughout our community and who will help to alleviate the state’s nursing shortage.”

According to the school, the $63 million, 90,000-square-foot building will be large enough for UCF to increase its nursing school admissions by at least 50% when it opens in the 2025-26 school year.

“To date, the Florida Legislature has committed $43.7 million toward the building, and the university expects to complete our private fundraising campaign for the building’s construction later this summer,” according to the school.

“We are thankful for the Florida Legislature’s and community donors’ support of our efforts to educate much-needed nursing providers, leaders and educators,” College of Nursing Dean Mary Lou Sole said in a statement. “More Knight nurses are needed to care for current and future Floridians, to teach the next generation of nurses, and to advance nursing science to ensure a healthier future for all.”

The school said that out of all the Florida state universities, UCF graduates the most nurses who are newly licensed and hold bachelor’s degrees.

“Almost all of them — 85% of the 14,000 nursing alumni — live and work in Florida,” UCF said.

UCF’s efforts to train more nurses come as the state is predicted to face a shortage of 59,000 nurses by 2035, according to the Florida Hospital Association.

The FHA warns nurses are leaving the field in droves following the pandemic and that the industry needs to make changes to improve nurses’ conditions.

“The current market requires hospitals to enact extraordinary measures to retain staff and fill vacancies, including salary market adjustments to address the value of labor under current economic conditions,” according to the association.

“Hospitals are also implementing new policies and procedures to support their health care teams and increase retention, including maximizing the skills of every team member and leveraging technology to reduce administrative burdens.”

Gabrielle Russon

Gabrielle Russon is an award-winning journalist based in Orlando. She covered the business of theme parks for the Orlando Sentinel. Her previous newspaper stops include the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Toledo Blade, Kalamazoo Gazette and Elkhart Truth as well as an internship covering the nation’s capital for the Chicago Tribune. For fun, she runs marathons. She gets her training from chasing a toddler around. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter @GabrielleRusson .


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