Northwest Florida State College kicked off the $30 Million renovation of their nursing school with about two dozen sledgehammers wielded by men and women in business casual attire.
“Normally, you have groundbreakings or you’re building something new, but when you tear it up and rebuild the thing, we like to do a wall breaking,” mused Northwest Florida State College President Dr. Devin Stephenson, “So that’s the whole purpose of being here today. Ceremonially saying, ‘something great is happening here.'”
The College received the bulk of the funds for the renovation from the Triumph Gulf Coast Corporation. Triumph, as it is commonly referred to, is a State of Florida-owned company that is responsible for distributing the $1.5 Billion of settlement money BP agreed to after the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Disaster in 2010.
The total cost of the renovation will total around $30 Million, and the College plans to wrap up renovations by the fourth quarter of 2024.
The College, which offers Registered Nurse (RN) and Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) programs, has been ranked highly by various assessors of nursing programs, according to Dr. Stephenson. In addition, the program currently places 100% of its graduates in nursing jobs. The program hopes the expansion and renovation will allow the school to double the number of nursing graduates it is able to create, from about 95 per year to 180 per year.
According to Dr. Tonya Beauregard, the NWFSC Nursing Program Director, the expansion allows the College to allow for innovative education. “We will provide new digital platforms, virtual and augmented reality, game-based learning, and other technological innovations,” Dr. Beauregard told the audience.
In addition to expanding the facilities and class – NWFSC plans to reach into the ranks of Licensed Practical Nurses, who are trained at technical colleges and recruit them to earn their RNs and BSNs at NWFSC. After all, the need for advanced nursing graduates is acute in the state of Florida right now. “By the year 2035, in the state of Florida, we’ll be short 60,000 nurses,” Stephenson said to the audience, “So our goal here is to feel like we have a clarion call; there’s a role to do something special. That’s double the capacity…I can tell you that our students will be equipped with both theoretical knowledge and hands-on experience, ensuring they are ready to address modern healthcare challenges upon graduation.”