U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor visits USF Nursing, discusses nursing workforce bill proposal

Strengthening the education and training of the nation’s nursing workforce is critical to advancing patient care in an increasing complex health care system.

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor emphasized the importance of highly skilled nurses during her Feb. 13 tour of the newly renovated USF College of Nursing George and Marian Miller Center for Virtual Learning.

Castor met with USF Health leaders, faculty, students, staff and local media to highlight the Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act that she recently helped introduce in the United States Congress. The legislation would provide federal funding for advanced programs and initiatives to help prepare top-quality nurses – enhancing training that addresses an aging population, diversity, primary and acute care, as well as interprofessional education and practice.

“Nurses work tirelessly to keep our communities healthy, and they need our support,” said Castor during her visit. “This bill, if passed, would help prepare the nurses of tomorrow and provide a pathway to good-paying jobs across the country, especially in our state.”

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor speaking to USF Health leaders, faculty, staff, students and local media about the Title VII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act.

“We appreciate Castor’s efforts of introducing this bill in Congress,” said Charles Lockwood, MD, senior vice president for USF Health and dean of the Morsani College of Medicine “This opportunity would provide much-needed financial support for education and training programs that help prepare top-quality nurses and future faculty as well as minimize the existing nursing shortage across Florida.”

During her visit, Castor toured through the state-of-the-art experiential lab and met with students as they practiced basic health skills learned in the classroom.

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor met with nursing faculty and students in the newly-renovated experiential lab.

The new space, which includes 12 hospital–like patient rooms, four separate simulation rooms, a skills lab, a community health room and a lab classroom, provides students a more realistic learning environment.

“Our goal was to design a high-fidelity simulation environment where students felt like they’re training in a real-world healthcare facility, and I think we’ve done that,” said Teresa Gore, PhD, associate professor and director of experiential learning in the George & Marian Miller Center for Virtual Learning.

Castor also visited USF College of Nursing on Bull Nurses Week, a student-organized celebration running Feb. 13 through 17. The week-long event recognizes students and their commitment to nursing education, clinical training and community involvement.

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor meets with USF College of Nursing students as they celebrate Bull Nurses Week.

“Nurses are the backbone of health care,” said Donna Petersen, ScD, senior associate vice president of USF Health, dean of the USF College of Public Health and interim dean of the College of Nursing. “Investing in nurses is an investment in our communities, it’s an investment in our health and our sustainability as a vibrant society.”

To view more photos, click here.

Story by Vjollca Hysenlika, USF Health Communications 
Photos by Jessica Samaniego, USF Nursing Communications