HCC moves ahead with 4-year nursing program as experts project staffing shortage in Florida

Amid warnings about a severe nursing shortage, Hillsborough Community College is getting ready to launch its own Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. It will become the college's first-ever four-year degree.

HCC is now seeking accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, with plans to submit its application next February. The submission will be up for consideration by the SACS Board of Trustees during a biannual meeting in June 2022.

This comes after HCC's application was approved by the State Board of Education last August.

"As the primary provider of workforce education in this community, it is incumbent upon us to collaborate with our business and industry partners to fill voids in their talent pipeline," HCC president Dr. Ken Atwater said at the time.

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According to the college, labor market projections indicate a projected increase in demand of more than 1,271 annual job openings in HCC’s service area.

"In response to local labor market demand and in light of the University of South Florida phasing out its Registered Nurse (RN) to BSN specialization, this is an opportune time for HCC to fill the void and to meet the regional employer demand in nursing," the college said in an announcement.

READ: USF Health hopes to combat nurse shortage by streamlining nursing program

Hospital leaders fear Florida could face a significant nursing shortage by 2035.

"Given the population growth in Florida, the demand for healthcare services, and the challenging nature of being a nurse, we have a forecast shortfall over the next ten years of nearly 60,000 nurses," said Mary Mayhew president and CEO of the Florida Hospital Association.

That number is based on research commissioned by the FHA and Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida. Adding more nursing graduates is one of several ways leaders are trying to fix the problem.

HCC is also seeking approval from the programmatic accreditor, the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). The BSN program offering is projected to roll out in the fall of 2022.