By Marc R. Masferrer, University Communications and Marketing
Kathryn Williams says the accelerated second-degree nursing program at USF Sarasota-Manatee prepared her well for her career as a registered nurse on the Cardiac Medical/Surgical Floor at Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center. But she says she and her classmates on the Sarasota-Manatee campus sometimes felt shortchanged because the simulation labs and other resources were not as extensive as those enjoyed by nursing students on other USF campuses.
“We did have to travel to the Tampa campus for a few simulation labs, and journeying from Sarasota to Tampa and back was an inconvenience to most of the students,” said Williams, who graduated from the USF nursing program in May 2023.
Williams said the Nursing/STEM building being planned for USF Sarasota-Manatee would be “invaluable” for the campus’s nursing students by providing them with more advanced technology for their training — eliminating the need to commute between campuses — and by attracting additional faculty to the campus.
“More staffing means more opportunities for students to have access to the labs outside of class time to practice skills they were unable to master in the short class period,” Williams said. “I know that a lot of students, myself included, really wanted extra time to use the lab to refresh ourselves and practice skills before going back into clinicals after school breaks but due to scheduling conflicts, we weren’t able to do that.”
Williams’ experience is exactly part of what USF plans to address with construction of the $61.7 million, 75,000-square-foot Nursing/STEM building planned for the north side of the courtyard on the Sarasota-Manatee campus. Officials say the new building will allow USF to gradually increase the size of an accelerated second-degree nursing program started in 2020 to address a critical nursing shortage in the region.
Graduates of USF’s nursing program traditionally exceed state and national first-time pass rates on the NCLEX-RN nurse licensure examination.
Williams, who did her pediatric clinical rotation at the Lakeland hospital while a student and currently is training to become a Neonatal ICU nurse, said the new building should create more training opportunities for students and strengthen ties between USF Sarasota-Manatee and the surrounding community.
“I believe that as the campus develops the Nursing/STEM building, there is an opportunity to offer health screenings to the community that will count towards the nursing student’s public health clinicals,” said Williams, who previously graduated from USF with a bachelor’s degree in biology. “This will help bridge any gaps between the university and the Sarasota-Manatee area. It can also expose members of the community to the university and encourage enrollment to USF.”
For more information about the Nursing/STEM building, including ways to support the project, visit sarasotamanatee.usf.edu/future/stem-nursing.