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MIAMI– Medical leaders and educators met Wednesday to form a new advisory council called the Keizer Nursing Advisory Council to help address the anticipated shortage of nurses statewide. According to leaders, this shortage is expected to reach nearly 60,000 nurses by 2035.

The Florida Hospital Association said there are currently not enough nurses and that will continue for the next decade.

“Let’s face it, who’s going to take care of us? Who will take care of us? said Florida Rep. Marie Woodson, who represents District 101.

More than two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, not only are nurses burnt out, but many want to leave a field that is already understaffed.

“A third of current nurses say they are likely to leave their profession by the end of this year,” said Belinda Keiser, vice chancellor of Keizer University.

Contributing to that shortage, nurse Javier Araque said, is the ability to become a traveling nurse. The main reason: money.

“You know, if we can do the same job and I can earn X times more than you, why wouldn’t I? I have a family to support,” said traveling nurse Javier Araque.

The Florida Hospital Association and the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida say they expect a shortage of 59,100 nurses by 2035.

That’s a 12% decrease in RNs and a 30% decrease in LPNs.

Araque said it was obvious to go from a permanent nurse to a traveling nurse as she earned 2.5 to 4 times as much.

“If you have the experience and you have the opportunity, why wouldn’t you do it? It just doesn’t make sense not to do it,” Araque said.

He continues to say that they can stop people leaving by paying permanent staff a higher salary.

Gino Santorio, president and CEO of Mount Sinai Medical Center, said traveling nurses make more money; but it’s normal when you work day and without benefits.

He said when they hire travel nurses, they hire from out of state so they don’t compete with local nurses.

“We’re seeing people leaving for travel opportunities. It’s gone down a bit in the last few months, we’re seeing people leaving for outpatients or working from home,” Santorio said.

“It’s a bittersweet feeling because you really become a family with your soil and the people you work with and in the trenches every day,” Araque said. “But at the end of the day, everyone has responsibilities and everyone has bills.”

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