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USF Health’s College of Nursing Opens New Skills Lab at Sarasota-Manatee Campus

A new accelerated nursing degree program is also unveiled.

Presented by USF January 17, 2020

The word “consolidation” has captured much attention lately as the University of South Florida endeavors to consolidate its three campuses into one cohesive university with a singular identity and vision. Now, the initial results of that effort are being felt in an exciting new program at the Sarasota-Manatee campus.

On Jan. 15, leaders of USF, USF Health and Sarasota-Manatee gathered at the campus to officially welcome a new Nursing Skills Lab and celebrate the launch of an Accelerated Second Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree program.

Operated by the USF Health College of Nursing, this exhilarating new program offers a pathway for students who already possess a bachelor’s degree to earn a nursing degree through a four-semester, 16-month program.

Students beginning in the program in spring 2020 will graduate with a BSN degree in May 2021 and be fully prepared to step into positions to help meet the documented needs of the region’s health care industry.

“This is just the first step of what is about to come,” Byron Shinn, USF Trustee and chair of the USF Sarasota-Manatee Campus Board, declared to a crowd of well-wishers as USF administrators, faculty and other supporters cut a ribbon to open the new lab. “This will have a direct impact in so many ways.”

Thirty students will comprise the first cohort that launched this spring, but more students will undoubtedly enter the program as it continues to grow and thrive in the future. Also important, these students will complete their clinical rotations at Sarasota Memorial Hospital and Manatee Memorial Hospital, and many likely will continue to serve in the region long after they have graduated.

“This new nursing skills lab is helping to prepare the next generation of qualified, skilled nurses to provide care to our growing population,” said Victoria L. Rich, PhD, dean of the College of Nursing from the USF Tampa campus. “I couldn’t be prouder of these students and more hopeful as USF seeks to partner with communities to tackle the shortage of qualified, skilled nurses, a problem that is affecting not only this area but the entire nation.”

Rich collaborated closely with USFSM Regional Chancellor Karen A. Holbrook, PhD, USFSM Dean of the College of Science & Mathematics Paul Kirchman, PhD, and many others to create the second degree nursing program.

The nine-bed lab, a further testament to their efforts, has been in the planning and construction stages for more than a year and includes the latest medical technologies, including medical training mannequins and a state-of-the art video-conferencing system to communicate with classrooms on other USF campuses.

Also instrumental in creating the lab was the Suncoast Nursing Action Coalition – a local advocacy organization that provides scholarships – as well as Natasha Zurcher, EdD, who oversees the nursing lab and directs the Accelerated Degree Program.

“Sarasota-Manatee is a growing region and we need more skilled nurses to deliver high-quality care to that region,” Zurcher said. “Fortunately, this program is here to help make a difference.

“I tell many of our students that the hospitals where they will work to complete their clinical rotations are often the first places to offer them a job once they graduate,” she said. “This program will be very impactful, not just to the students but to the community as well.”

To learn more about programs at the USF College of Nursing, visit health.usf.edu/nursing.

For more about USF Sarasota-Manatee, visit usfsm.edu.