By Daniel Casciato

Even through the height of the pandemic, the Nursing Consortium of Florida has been busy convening its growing membership to assess the effects of the COVID pandemic on nursing and develop strategies for moving the nurse workforce forward.

Maria A. Suarez, DNP, MSN, APRN, ACNP-BC


“The COVID experience and the sharp rise in the cost of housing accelerated a generational shift that was already underway,” says Maria A. Suarez, DNP, MSN, APRN, ACNP-BC, Assistant Vice President, Nursing Administration at Baptist Health Miami Cancer Institute and President of the Nursing Consortium of Florida. “During the last two years, many nurses moved up retirement plans, and others have chosen to work less or work differently. The result is that hospital nursing in the next decade will look very different than the nursing we’ve been familiar with.”





Jean Seaver, MSN, RN, Associate Vice President, Learning & Development for Broward Health and President-elect of the Nursing Consortium of Florida, adds, “Our goal is nursing teams that are more resilient and higher performing, and to get there we need to embrace a new generation of nurses with stronger programming that begins with better and longer onboarding experiences, that includes reconfigured nurse teams to enable greater opportunities for teaching, learning, and bonding, and that is sustained through better and broader leveraging of technology and evolved leadership roles that are better able to support the new teams being formed.”

Member organizations are already implementing a number of the recommended strategies and the Consortium is busy exploring sources of funding to help accelerate and broaden the adoption of recommended initiatives and to conduct research on their effectiveness, according to Ralph Egües, Jr., Executive Director of the Nursing Consortium of Florida.

“The challenges of meeting the needs of our aging boomers and the opportunity to more fully realize our potential as a healthcare destination requires investments to elevate nursing care,” he says. “There is no turning back to what was. We need to embrace and realize a better future for nursing and healthcare.”

In good times and bad, nurse leaders in the member organizations know that they get better together, adds Suarez.

“I’m not surprised that our association has experienced such impressive growth during the last couple of years,” she says. “We have a long tradition of sharing best practices, fostering strategies to build upon those, and developing relevant programming. That’s what makes Consortium membership attractive and relevant to long-standing and new member organizations alike.”

The work that the Consortium has done to define what’s next for nursing and how to get there, is work that has attracted attention throughout the state and beyond.

“It seems that leaders everywhere realize that there is a critical nursing shortage, but it’s the Consortium that has defined the contributing factors to the present challenges and proposed specific initiatives to establish a nursing workforce that is more resilient and able to achieve better patient outcomes,” explains Seaver. “We invite all those interested in making a difference, those who wish to address the nursing shortage and build what’s next for nursing to contact us.”

Ralph Egües, Jr.

The organization recently changed its name (from Nursing Consortium of South Florida) to express openness to those beyond the traditional South Florida region who are welcome to join in the great collaboration that is the Nursing Consortium of Florida, notes Egües.

The Nursing Consortium of Florida is a Florida chartered not for profit corporation recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) organization whose principal mission is to identify and address matters of concern to the nursing profession. Today, it has more than 70 dues-paying member organizations including schools of nursing, and hospitals and other providers of nursing services.

Members are currently based throughout the southern half of the Florida peninsula, from Monroe to Highlands County and from Fort Lauderdale to Fort Myers. Each member organization pays annual dues of $1,200.00.

“Members collaborate to improve the public perception of nursing, support increased funding for nursing education, and implement strategic interventions and research aimed at establishing best practices in the recruitment, development, and retention of a quality nursing workforce well suited to our rich cultural diversity,” says Seaver.

Meanwhile, Egües notes that there are numerous programs offered throughout the year for the membership that help further the Consortium’s mission. Members collaborate through participation in the Conference Planning committee, the Community Engagement committee which promotes and facilitates the participation of nurse leaders on community and foundation boards, the Youth Outreach committee which organizes programming to enlighten middle and high school students on the many career options available to those who pursue a career in nursing, and the Advocacy committee which educates elected officials and others on matters of importance to the nursing profession; including nursing education, scope of practice, and patient care.

The Consortium also administers the CCPS in Florida, a leading web based centralized clinical placement system which facilitates the scheduling of clinical experiences for student nurses and allied health professionals that is attracting wide attention from those recognizing the need to expand nursing programs.