Lease agreement paves way for nursing program at USF St. Petersburg

A new agreement between the city of St. Petersburg and USF St. Petersburg will provide space for research and a highly sought-after nursing program on campus starting in Fall 2019.

The St. Petersburg City Council on Thursday, Feb. 21, voted unanimously to allow USF St. Petersburg to lease the Port Terminal Building at 250 8th Avenue SE, next to the USF College of Marine Science. The 10,713-square-foot building will be used for classroom, office and laboratory space.

“Nurses continue to be in high demand in our region and we’re pleased to help fill that workforce need while providing our students with exciting career options,” said Martin Tadlock, PhD, regional chancellor of USF St. Petersburg. “This is also a terrific example of the ongoing partnership between our university and the city of St. Petersburg, where we work together to improve lives and create opportunity.”

Students listen to a lecture at USF College of Nursing.

The move is an example of how the ongoing USF System consolidation process will provide expanded access to programs for students and will help meet the needs of each community the university serves in the Tampa Bay region. The USF College of Nursing is joining with USF St. Petersburg to provide an accelerated second-degree nursing program on the USFSP campus, with a similar arrangement planned for USF Sarasota Manatee.

Designed for students who already have a bachelor’s degree, USF’s Accelerated Second Degree major offers a nursing degree through a four-semester/16-month program. All coursework will be taught by USF Nursing faculty. Lecture courses will be held at the Port Terminal Building, with clinical experiences in other locations throughout Pinellas County. Some travel to the USF Tampa campus will be required for students to participate in high-fidelity simulation and interprofessional learning, as well as using some USF Health services.

Several City Council members expressed enthusiasm for the partnership during the meeting. “I’m excited to support this,” said Ed Montanari, the Council Vice Chair. “I hope this is just the start of many exciting things happening at USF St. Petersburg.”

Employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 15 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. At the same time, the Florida Center for Nursing also predicts a nursing shortage in Florida of over 50,000 by 2025.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to fill the high employment demand for nurses in the Tampa Bay region and throughout Florida,” said Victoria L. Rich, PhD, RN, FAAN, dean of the USF Health College of Nursing and senior associate vice president of USF Health. “The program enables students who already have their first bachelor’s degree to apply their knowledge to the academic and clinical rigor of the baccalaureate nursing degree.”

The Port Terminal Building’s location makes it an ideal fit for the nursing program, said Magali Michael, PhD, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at USF St. Petersburg. Its proximity to the university will give nursing students an on-campus experience, she added.

“The nursing students can walk over and instantly be a part of our campus community,” Michael said. “They can participate in student activities and have a true campus experience.”

The opportunity to interact with nursing students on campus will also create more excitement among undergraduates about the accelerated second-degree nursing program, Michael added.

“They will serve as a great example of the opportunities available to students with an undergraduate degree in biology or health science,” she said.

The agreement with the city of St. Petersburg allows USF to lease the Port Terminal Building for two years at a cost of $44,820 per year. The building previously housed the Marine Exploration Center.

Students interested in learning more about the accelerated second-degree nursing program should visit https://health.usf.edu/nursing/ for more information.

-Story by Carrie O’Brion,  USF St. Petersburg Communications and Marketing