Suncoast Scholarships Tackle Nursing School Faculty Shortage

SARASOTA, Fla. (Sept. 15, 2016) – The Suncoast Nursing Action Coalition (SNAC) began awarding advanced degree nursing scholarships this month to help boost the number of qualified nursing instructors in the region and address the continuing nursing shortage.  An aging faculty, limited pool of candidates with post-graduate degrees needed to teach nursing and increasing job competition from clinical sites are contributing to serious staffing shortages in nursing schools across the country.

“Nursing students are being turned away from understaffed nursing schools at a time when more nurses than ever are needed in hospital and community care settings,” said Jan Mauck, Chief Nursing Officer at Sarasota Memorial Health Care System and co-chair of SNAC. “By investing in nurses’ post-graduate education, we hope more nurses will become prepared to fill those critical faculty roles.

To that end, SNAC has developed two scholarship programs. The first provides financial support for current nursing faculty in the Suncoast region (Sarasota, Charlotte, Manatee and Desoto counties) pursuing doctoral degrees in nursing (either a DNP or Ph.D). The goal is to increase the number of doctoral prepared faculty qualified to teach in the SNAC region’s Bachelor’s in Nursing (BSN) programs. SNAC soon will be announcing a second scholarship program for individuals pursuing a BSN degree.

SNAC’s first doctoral nursing scholarship was awarded on Aug. 8 to Angela Vitale, a nursing professor at Florida SouthWestern State College’s campus in Charlotte County (previously named Edison State College). The $20,000 scholarship will cover her tuition costs to pursue a Ph.D in nursing education at Walden University starting this fall.

“I’m very grateful for this opportunity to expand my skills and hopefully inspire the next generation of nurses to obtain advanced degrees,” said Vitale, who worked 15 years as an obstetrical nurse in Detroit, Mich., and Fort Myers, Fla., before moving into the academic setting three years ago.

Vitale currently teaches Maternal Nursing to nursing students in the college’s undergraduate program and will continue teaching while earning her Ph.D. With a doctorate, she will be able to teach in the college’s RN to BSN program.

The community-funded SNAC scholarships are among many statewide initiatives that followed a landmark Institute of Medicine report published in 2010, “The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health,” which recommended doubling the number of nurses with doctorates in the United States by the year 2020, and other actions to ensure nurses are well positioned to lead change and advance health.

To help address the needs in Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte and Desoto counties, SNAC offers information, referrals and support to individuals interested in a nursing career or current nurses who want to enroll in advanced degree programs. To reach SNAC’s nurse navigator, call (941) 780-1447 or email [email protected].

About the Suncoast Nursing Action Coalition:
SNAC is a regional pilot project created by the Florida Action Coalition to develop resources and help implement recommendations from the 2010 Institute of Medicine report: The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. SNAC is made up of representatives from health systems, colleges and universities training nurses and community members in a 4-county region (Sarasota, Manatee, DeSoto and Charlotte). Information: