RN Careers in Florida: Becoming an RN
Organizations in Florida are working to attract dedicated and caring professionals to the nursing field and provide the kind of work environment where they will want to stick around for decades. There are many varied opportunities in nursing: from pediatric units to nursing homes, from technical duties that are performed bedside or ventilator-side to roles in case management, quality improvement, and health promotion.
Earning RN Licensure and Securing Advancement Opportunities
Prospective RNs complete approved or accredited programs (RN programs in Florida). All new RNs are required to take and pass the NCLEX-RN licensing examination; the purpose is to assess that they have basic competency at the professional nursing level. Expertise in particular roles is developed at a later stage. A number of health systems now have residency programs for new nurses. They have orientation programs for the various units but also reward prior education. Hospitals consider the level of nursing education. One can take the NCLEX with an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) but will not find all the same opportunities.
NCLEX scores on one of the considerations for continued Board approval. A number of Florida programs have been closed because of lower-than-acceptable examination pass rates.
The Florida Center for Nursing, authorized by state statute, provides information about the state’s nursing workforce. The Center noted that the number of graduates with Bachelor of Nursing (BSN) degrees has increased in the past reporting cycle.
Florida RN Work Settings
Hospitals, here as in the nation as a whole, are the largest employer of registered nurses. The latest report found 63.5% of Florida RNs employed by hospitals. The following each employ a portion of the state’s registered nurses:
- Home health: 6.4%
- Long-Term Care: 4.8%
- Ambulatory Care: 4.4%
- Hospice: 3.2%
- Doctor’s/ Provider’s Offices: 2.6%
More than 15% were employed in other settings; these run the gamut from from correctional institutions to academia.
In recent years, hospital and home health vacancies have been on an uptick. Vacancies on a whole are down from what they were at baseline. This represents a level of victory.
Regional and Local Differences in Florida Nursing Employment
Florida also collects and analyzes nursing data on local and regional levels. Interested individuals can find information about RN clinical specialty as well as work setting. The following is for the South Florida region (including Miami-Dade):
- Acute Care 18.4%
- Medical/ Surgical 14.5%
- Emergency/ Trauma 6.4%
- Operating Room 6.0%
- Home Health 5.5%
This is a highly educated group. The percentage of employed RNs whose highest degree was at the associate’s or diploma level was just 36%. 44.4% held a BSN as their highest degree; there were an additional 8.8% with non-nursing bachelor’s degrees. The remaining nurses had degrees at the graduate level, whether in nursing or another field.
People who want to bring the information down to the level of county and workforce board will find resources on the Center for Nursing website as well (https://www.flcenterfornursing.org/StatewideData/AboutourStatewideEfforts.aspx).
Becoming an RN-First Assistant
Florida statute includes additional requirements for registered nurses who work as first assistants in the operating room. This role takes additional formal training. The program is to be one academic year or the equivalent and is to include all content identified in the Operating Room Nurses, Inc. Core Curriculum. The RN will be certified as a perioperative nurse.
Florida RN Retention and Advancement
The Florida Center for Nursing does more than just report data. It also funds multiple programs designed to facilitate recruitment and retention. Retaining nurses is largely about giving them the things they need to keep them content on the job; this can mean, among other things, implementing shared governance models and providing adequate staffing. The Center also noted that nursing students needed realistic expectations. The most recent report noted the importance of supporting aging RNs so they could continue to practice.
Florida organizations are working to make nurses’ voices heard in many settings and on many levels. The Florida Action Coalition (FL-AC) Board Service Course can prepare nurses to serve on hospital boards.
Premier Florida Healthcare Institutions
Becker’s Hospital Review has placed three Florida organizations in the top twelve in its list of top hospitals and health systems. They are Adventist Health System, BayCare Health System, and Boca Raton Regional Hospital.
Magnet status is unique in that it is awarded by a nursing organization. The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) has designated 23 magnet hospitals in Florida. They are a diverse group, with institutions such as Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, Brooks Rehabilitation Hospital, and Florida Hospital for Children. Multiple magnet facilities may be under the banner of a single major healthcare system; an example is Baptist Health System.
Magnets are known for what they offer nurses on-the-job and off. The Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute characterizes employment as a career and mission but recognizes that employees also have lives outside nursing or medicine. The recruitment section includes a work/ life page describing perks. Employees can utilize an on-site childcare center and acute care clinic; the latter offers various free services, including prescriptions and counseling to aid in smoking cessation. . Notably, several offerings are health-focused. Employees can earn credits toward healthcare premiums by participating in wellness programs.
BayCare notes the following under the work/ life category: on-site child care centers, sick child care, reward and recognition programs, and interdenominational pastoral care. Employees enjoy a tenure celebration every five years and also get to select a gift from the tenure catalog. Nurses have multiple and varied options for education and advancement. The organization has a clinical nurse residency program in place. Grants, scholarships, tuition assistance, and educational partnerships facilitate educational attainment. Career ladders allow those with expertise to be paid for their skills.
Average RN Salary in Florida
In 2016, Florida registered nurses averaged $31.07 an hour or $64,630 for a year of full-time work. The range of salaries is wide, with those at the 10th percentile making, $22.38; those at the 90th percentile making $40.09.
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