1,000 Vacancies

Guest Correspondence

Photo by Jennifer Johnston

How to recruit and retain healthcare heroes? Laurie Bennett, who oversees human resources at Sarasota Memorial Health Care System, told the County Commission last week that there are 1,000 positions that hospital managers are seeking to fill county-wide. With the opening of the new full-service hospital in Venice, as well as the Brian D. Jellison Cancer Institute in Sarasota, there are opportunities for specialists and entry-level professionals alike. 

Addressing the national shortage of nurses and other healthcare providers will take multiple sectors working together. Gulf Coast Community Foundation applauds our healthcare essential workers and supports the institutions that sustain them.

In partnership with the University of South Florida College of Nursing and Sarasota Memorial Health Care System, Gulf Coast Community Foundation invested in the Excellence in Nursing During COVID-19 and Beyond pilot program. It is designed to create a local nursing workforce that is healthy, highly educated and resilient. Through training and coaching, it provides nurses and students with the skills to reduce burn out. The program creates a pipeline of baccalaureate-prepared nurses while providing mentorship, to facilitate their transition from academia to practice, which improves patient safety. The goal is to positively affect nurses’ well-being -- thus patients’ well-being -- and the well-being of our region.

Together with area hospitals, the state of Florida, and local foundations, Gulf Coast Community Foundation is supporting the expansion of State College of Florida’s Nursing Center of Excellence. The aim is to meet the growing need for nursing students to care for the area’s aging and chronically or acutely ill populations. State College of Florida offers the only state-of-the-art Medical Technology & Simulation Center on Florida’s west coast.

Pineapple Yoga & Cycling Studio downtown also is contributing to the effort. With funding from Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation and the COVID-19 Response Initiative of Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation and Gulf Coast Community Foundation, employees of Sarasota Memorial Hospital can access healing workshops at low to no cost. There are small group retreats, trauma-sensitive yoga, spin classes, mindful movement, sound healing and positive meditation in the studio and out in the courtyard. Being on the front lines of the pandemic has left our healthcare workforce in need of restoration and rejuvenation.

Artist Karen Chandler painted the bright, heart-centered murals at 1717 Second Street in Sarasota to express appreciation to the individuals who care for us when we’re most in need. For those inspired to go into a healthcare profession, consider applying for a scholarship from one of the local foundations.

Colleges are working to recruit and train the workforce and healthcare facilities are focused on retaining and promoting talent. I’m trying to do my small part. I offer a friendly hello and thank you every time I see my neighbor returning from his shift in scrubs as I begin my day. I’m usually heading out for a walk -- my personal health plan to hopefully avoid needing his treatment services.

Jennifer Johnston is director of Community Leadership for Gulf Coast Community Foundation.

Photo by Jennifer Johnston

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