A surgeon naps on a hospital bench.

Grants from two of Florida’s largest healthcare providers seek to add hundreds of new nurses to the workforce each year.

The University of Central Florida disclosed Thursday that a pair of $5 million grants, pledged by AdventHealth and Orlando Health, two health systems in the state offering hospital and in-home services, will help fund a new state-of-the-art school building, according to a news release from UCF College of Nursing.

As the workforce shortage strains providers’ ability to care for patients, UCF hopes the new building will add hundreds more nurses each year to hospitals and home care agencies in the state and across the nation. The Florida Hospital Association predicts that 2,300 registered nurses will need to enter the workforce annually to offset a shortage of 37,400 by 2035. UCF already graduates about 260 nurses annually, and the new building is expected to add 150 new nurses to each class, according to a news release last November.

“Ensuring we have well-educated, highly trained and skilled nurses to meet Florida’s growing health care needs is a pressing challenge for the entire health care sector,” Randy Haffner, CEO of AdventHealth Florida, said in a statement. 

In an email to McKnight’s Home Care Daily Pulse, the company added that UCF is the largest provider of nursing graduates in AdventHealth’s Central Florida Division, and that supporting the college of nursing helps address the region’s growing staffing needs. 

To address the demand for “highly trained and skilled workers,” the new school building will include state-of-the-art technology, such as labs, augmented and virtual reality spaces, and a Simulation, Technology, Innovation and Modeling (STIM) Center to train the next generation healthcare workers. 

According to Mary Lou Sole, dean of UCF’s college of nursing, “No other university is better equipped to be a part of the solution to the nursing shortage.”

The grants bring UCF $10 million closer to reaching their $70 million goal required to break ground. To date, the university has raised $26.2 from philanthropic investments, including $10 million from Dr. Phillips Charities and $5.5 million from the Helene Fuld Health Trust. The state of Florida contributed $43.7 million “to support the region and guide 21st century healthcare,” according to the release.