Following the pandemic, Florida hospitals and health care systems continue to face critical workforce shortages, exponential growth in  labor costs, and dependency on temporary staffing. The dramatic rise in hospital labor costs—combined with inflation and significant losses in hospital budget reserves from the stock market decline—increases the financial strain on hospitals. Hospitals have seen historically high turnover rates among nurses of over 32%, and based on a 2021 FHA analysis, the state faces an overall shortage of 59,000 nurses by 2035.

The current market requires hospitals to enact extraordinary measures to retain staff and fill vacancies, including salary market adjustments to address the value of labor under current economic conditions. Hospitals are also implementing new policies and procedures to support their health care teams and increase retention, including maximizing the skills of every team member and leveraging technology to reduce administrative burdens.

2023 Legislative Priorities

1. Address the double-digit nurse vacancy rate and shortage by supporting policies that:

  • Increase nurse faculty, educational capacity, professional development, and innovative models to support career ladders.
  • Increase retention through expanded preceptors and apprenticeships needed for transitioning to practice models.
  • Support efforts to secure additional resources for workforce development for nurses, respiratory therapists, technicians, and other specialized care providers.
  • Support efforts to ensure health care professionals can practice at the top of their license.
  • Promote fair and equitable practices for agency/contract staffing used to supplement fluctuating staffing needs.

2. Support housing programs that are designed to promote homeownership for the health care workforce.

3. Mitigate violence against health care workers by:

  • Extending enhanced workplace violence protections for health care providers beyond the hospital emergency department.

Hospital Labor Cost Analysis

Florida hospitals and health care systems continue to face critical workforce shortages, exponential growth in their labor costs, and ongoing dependency on temporary staffing.

The dramatic rise in hospital labor costs—combined with inflation and significant losses in hospital budget reserves from the stock market decline—increases the financial strain on hospitals.

Workforce Vacancy Turnover Analysis

This analysis presents data on hospital workforce staffing issues, such as vacancy and turnover rates.

Workplace Violence

Violence against hospital employees is becoming more frequent and severe. Enhanced penalties already exist for emergency department employees, and FHA supports expanding these penalties to violence against any hospital employee.

Nurse Pipeline Funding

During the last legislative session, FHA helped to secure $125 million in new state funding for nursing education.

Part of these funds also create incentives for collaboration between nursing education programs and health care partners to meet changing workforce demands.

Workplace Violence Issue Brief

Individuals working in hospitals and health systems experience violence in the workplace in various ways, including harassment (physical and psychological), threats, intimidation, humiliation, shootings and other acts of violence, assault, and bullying. Incidents of violence in health care settings increased during the pandemic. Stronger criminal penalties are needed to send a clear message that violence against health care workers will not be tolerated.

Pipeline & Line Funding

$125 million in nursing education programs for the 2022-2023 state fiscal year for two programs: Prepping Institutions, Programs, Employers, and Learners through Incentives for Nursing Education (PIPELINE) and Linking Industry to Nursing Education (LINE) programs. These programs focus on addressing the growing workforce demand the state is facing.

HRSA Workforce Funding

$15 million in Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grant funds to grow the nursing workforce, improve access to nursing education, and advance health equity. The grant funding includes $10 million for Clinical Faculty and Preceptor Academies Program and $4.75 million for over three years for a Registered Nurse Training Program.

Hometown Hero Housing Program

The Florida Legislature awarded The Florida Housing Finance Corporation $100 million for the 2022-2023 state fiscal year to establish the Hometown Heroes Housing program. The is a zero-interest loan program that provides upfront payment for a down payment and closing costs to assist health care professionals with homeownership.

Allied Health Professionals

Allied health professionals are a diverse group of health care workers who provide necessary services to patients in addition to services provided by physicians and nurses. Allied health professionals comprises nearly 60% of the heath care workforce. People working in these roles may perform diverse responsibilities from laboratory testing, interact with patients, provide emergency medicine, or administrative work. They may also promote wellness and preventative medical practices.

Medicare Graduate Medical Education (GME)

Florida faces a critical physician shortage, projected to reach 18,000 by 2035, highlighting the urgent need for an expanded physician workforce to care for its aging and growing population. The COVID-19 pandemic has further emphasized the importance of health care providers in our nation’s infrastructure. To address this issue, it is essential to increase Medicare funding for Graduate Medical Education (GME) and lift the 1996 cap on the number of Medicare-funded GME slots. Expanding GME support will enable more physicians to complete their post-medical school training through primary residencies and specialty/subspecialty fellowships, ultimately leading to a stronger and more robust health care system in Florida.

Graduate Medical Education (GME)

By 2035 the State of Florida is projected to have a shortage of 36,000 physicians. There are multiple factors that have caused this shortage, but ultimately, we are not training enough physicians to meet the growing demand. As Florida has grown, the state has not seen a commensurate increase in Graduate Medical Education (GME) funding.

Nurse Licensure

The Florida Hospital Association (FHA) advocates for resources and policies that support an adequate, knowledgeable, competent, and healthy nursing workforce.

These efforts include supporting legislation that removes barriers to enrollment in nursing programs, in-migration of nurses from out-of-state, and funding that supports strengthening the nursing pipeline to meet the future health care needs of Florida residents.

Military Medics

Florida has one of the largest populations of military veterans and their spouses in the nation. More than 1.5 million veterans call Florida home.1 FHA supports helping military medics transition to the civilian health care workforce. Specifically, FHA supports pathways and programs for retired military medics so they can more easily transition to the civilian health care workforce with the needed qualifications and competencies.

Medicaid Graduate Medical Education (GME)

Increasing funding for Graduate Medical Education (GME) is one avenue to address the physician shortage in Florida, currently projected to be 36,000 by 2035.

Where a physician trains is highly predictive of where he or she practices, making residency training particularly important for a sufficient physician supply.

LPN Scope of Practice

With a severe nursing shortage, states are exploring new avenues to increase the number of nurses and retain their workforce. Allowing licensed practical nurses (LPNs) to perform optimally within their scope of practice may help address staffing challenges in the healthcare setting to meet the demand for care.

Allowing LPNs to leverage and utilize the full extent of their training and education can reduce the burden on registered nurses in hospitals and healthcare systems. There is also growing evidence that performing at the top of licensure increases job satisfaction – a key factor in retaining clinical staff.

Standing Tall for Florida’s Hospitals

Hospital Days was at the Florida Capitol | March 15-16, 2023