COVID shortages give Miami nursing students a unique opportunity

UM partners with Steward Health Care to fill clinical rotations

Nursing students at the University of Miami have an opportunity to step right into clinical rotations as part of a partnership with Steward Health Care’s five South Florida hospitals. It was born out of the staffing struggles of the COVID-19 pandemic.

HIALEAH, Fla. – Hospitals are getting creative to fill chronic nursing shortages in a range of units, partnering with the University of Miami to create a pipeline to opportunity.

“We have had a lot of people come through the field of nursing simply because they want to make a change with COVID,” said Nichole Crenshaw, associate dean for undergraduate nursing programs at the UM’s School of Nursing & Health Studies. “They feel like this is an opportunity to do something meaningful.”

University of Miami nursing students now have a new opportunity to get hands-on experience, a partnership with Steward Health Care’s five South Florida hospitals that places students on clinical rotations.

“It’s more than changing bed sheets,” said Dr. Marisela Marrero, Steward’s South Florida region president.

Marrero said clinical rounds will include units that before COVID-19 may have been limited to seasoned staff.

So, when hired, “they can go directly into an ICU even if they are a new graduate, which is not something that we tended to do in the past,” Marrero said.

“The days of having really seasoned and skilled nurses across the board in all of your units, those days are gone,” she said. “We just don’t have the number of personnel we used to have in the past, so we have to think creatively.”

Industry analysts say the pandemic exacerbated nursing shortages nationwide. Some quit. Some retired. Others left hospitals for lucrative gigs with traveling-nurse agencies.

This local partnership now creates a pipeline to education and employment.

“You are more likely to apply to a place where you were training,” Crenshaw said.

Added Marrero: “In an ICU you will find new nurses with seasoned nurses, and that in the past was not as common, you tended to put the new nurses in certain units where you thought it was an easier learning curve. But we have realized we got to change the model, and we have to make sure they go right in, ready to go, with the right support so they can take care of the patients in any unit in our hospitals

The partnership also provides hospital nurses already on staff with continuing education opportunities at the university. The program launches with undergraduate students, with plans to expand to graduate nursing students, including nurse anesthesiology.

Steward hospitals in South Florida:

  • Coral Gables Hospital, 3100 Douglas Rd., Coral Gables
  • Florida Medical Center, 5000 W Oakland Park Blvd., Lauderdale Lakes
  • Hialeah Hospital, 651 E 25th St., Hialeah
  • North Shore Medical Center, 1100 NW 95th St., Miami
  • Palmetto General Hospital, 2001 W 68 Street, Hialeah

About the Author:

Christina returned to Local 10 in 2019 as a reporter after covering Hurricane Dorian for the station. She is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and previously earned an Emmy Award while at WPLG for her investigative consumer protection segment "Call Christina."