South Florida Hospital News
Thursday September 24, 2020

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August 2020 - Volume 17 - Issue 2


FORTIS College-Cutler Bay: Personalized Hands-on Training for a Healthcare Career

As a leading, post-secondary network of colleges and institutes, FORTIS prepares its students with hands-on education with a focus on nursing, medical, dental and skilled trades programs.

Currently, FORTIS has more than 30 schools across the country with four here in Florida: Cutler Bay, Orange Park, Pensacola and Port St. Lucie. FORTIS College–Cutler Bay has been providing career-based training and diploma and degree programs for more than 11 years now, according to campus president, Bruce Smith.
“FORTIS College–Cutler Bay prepares students for careers in healthcare,” he says. “Our programs lead to careers as Registered Nurses, Practical Nurses, Medical Assistants and Limited Scope of Practice in Radiography.”
The benefit to being a part of a larger network of colleges, schools and training facilities is that FORTIS College offers a large variety of program offerings for students, and the ability to create partnership opportunities for hospitals and healthcare clinics. For example, explains Smith, with its Associates of Nursing program, a student with no prior college experience can graduate and sit for the national licensure test (the “NCLEX exam”) to become a registered nurse in as little as 24 months.
“Moreover,” continues Smith, “Our graduates have an opportunity to receive a substantial discount to attend one of our sister institutions to complete a RN to BSN program, and achieve a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing, in as little as 15 months, all while they are working as a RN.” “Our students and graduates have the ability to be BSN prepared with at least one year of direct RN experience in as little as 39 months. This is a major and unique benefit for area healthcare institutions recruiting for Registered Nurses.”
Focusing on the Student Experience
As an institution, its focus is on the student experience and engagement to learn the skills of their chosen career field. Some of the programs use a blend of online learning and in-person hands-on training for various skills.
Moreover, unlike a more traditional school that is more rigid, “We focus on creating a flexible schedule to accommodate our student’s busy lives,” adds Smith.
The College started operating in its current space in 2008. Since then, it has been growing to meet the needs of South Florida and specifically South Miami. Its Associates of Nursing program earned programmatic accreditation in 2018 by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). After noticing a growing need and demand for Licensed Practical Nurses in South Florida, the College was granted approval to offer a Practical Nursing – Diploma program starting in July 2020.
Safety First
As with other academic institutions, Smith says that they were very conscious of the safety of the students, faculty and staff at the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic. In early March and into mid-March 2020, the faculty and staff aggressively transitioned to move all of its courses to distance education with the goal to keep all of students safe while allowing them to stay on track to accomplish their career goals.
“During the last four months, we have invested in a single learning management platform, increased our technology capabilities so faculty have an improved ability to engage students remotely, and transitioned our support services to be both personal yet remote,” he says. “We may be providing distance education at this moment, but we are not distant educators.”
Each of the programs FORTIS offers has year-round enrollment entry points and as a result, its admissions process is now “virtual” and is completed on-line with specific support from the Admissions and Financial Services teams.
“We continue to monitor state and local protocols for bringing students back to campus, and no one has been permitted to return to our campus until it is safe to do so,” says Smith. “The College has been planning since March in anticipation of several scenarios. Our protocols currently include health screenings prior to entrance, facial covering and social distancing protocols, increased sanitization, and other key items. We know that we will continue these items, and add to them if needed, once local restrictions allow for students to be back on campus for learning activities.”
Looking Ahead
Beyond the pandemic, the biggest challenge facing FORTIS College–Cutler Bay is making sure it is meeting the needs of the community with programs that continue to deliver high-skilled employees.
“Staying on top of the needs of our community is one of our key focuses and continuing to discuss these needs with our partners is key in overcoming this challenge,” says Smith. “We are always sourcing new partners to empower our community with educational programs that lead to strong careers.”
In 10 years, Smith envisions the College as being one of the primary sources of high-demand and quality healthcare graduates for South Florida. To accomplish that, it is now building and modifying the current program offerings to meet the demands of the here and now, he notes.
“The infrastructure we’ve been building over the past year also allows us the flexibility we need to adapt to being a source of quality healthcare graduates,” says Smith. “I am very optimistic of what FORTIS College–Cutler Bay will be in 10 years and I am extremely proud of being able to provide local healthcare graduates now.”
Smith says that he likes to celebrate the good moments while focusing on what is next. Over the past year, the College has added a new practical nursing program, increased its partnerships with several local healthcare providers, and currently is navigating a pandemic.
“Keeping a focus on providing in-demand and quality healthcare graduates, we will continue to focus on our key goals of growing our partnerships to help be part of the solution for the shortage of nurses in our community and our state,” he says.

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