FIU Foundation News

Urgent Care – Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences Meets Community Needs

The communities that lie closest to FIU – like Sweetwater and Westchester – have a problem.

They’re home to a significant number of residents who are underserved and vulnerable in terms of the primary health care available to them, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, though, they are not the only ones. More than 60 percent of Miami-Dade County’s population currently lives in medically underserved areas.

A critical obstacle to alleviating this issue is a growing nursing shortage. Without bold and comprehensive solutions that will proactively prepare the health care system, there could be a nursing crisis in the near future. Since 2015, the expected demand for nurses has increased, with a deficit of 285,000 full-time nurses predicted by 2020.

The Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences (NWCNHS) is addressing this need by graduating nurses and health care professionals to meet increased demand. These diverse professionals train with the latest technologies to prepare for work in a global environment, and they are simultaneously committed to the delivery of high-quality, accessible, culturally competent and compassionate care.

“Miami has traditionally been very diverse, so it certainly has to be taught,” said alumna Harpreet Smith ’97, who is now senior director of operations at Quotient Sciences. “It just isn’t about being sensitive to other cultures  – but also how your own culture can affect how you provide care. Nurses have to be that bridge.”

More than 6,000 FIU nursing alumni have remained in the state of Florida. Of this group, many are employed in South Florida, at places such as Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, the Miami VA Healthcare System, Broward Memorial Hospital, Broward Regional Hospital and Jackson Health System.

“Our alumni continue to make a significant and lasting impact on the countless patients here in our own neighborhoods,” said NWCNHS Dean Ora L. Strickland. “We are grateful for the ongoing support, advocacy and collaboration of our community partners and donors, and we look forward to continued collaboration as we positively impact our community and beyond.”

In the years to come, more NWCNHS health care graduates will continue to address the need for culturally competent nursing and health care professionals, helping to provide a solution to the nursing shortage in Miami-Dade County.