Charles Baumann served at Kerkering Barberio for many years. Employee number “6” was once a shareholder at Kerkering Barberio and still shows up around the office every so often to share words of wisdom. The iPod Classic in his office is filled with tunes and his snappy attire shows you that he knows a thing or two about a thing or two.
But iPods and snazzy shirts aren’t the only things on Charles’ mind. These days, Charles spends a great deal of his time working to fix a national issue by starting right here at home in Sarasota county. It all started in 2014 when Mr. Baumann was approached and asked to join a committee with a single goal in mind– to increase positive patient outcomes at local hospitals.
Charles joined that committee, which would later be named the Suncoast Nursing Action Coalition (SNAC). SNAC operates from one core belief: it is imperative for nurses in the American workforce to acquire at least a bachelor’s degree in nursing. This belief finds its footing in two decades of research that points to BSN-prepared nurses producing a wealth of positive outcomes. These outcomes include, but are not limited to: decreased mortality and complication rates, reduction in infections and other hospital acquired conditions, shorter hospital stays, decreased readmission rates and higher job satisfaction and employee retention.
There are many causes to support in this world. So why higher standards for nurse education? What about this grabbed Charles’ attention, and the attention of SNAC? The answer is multi-faceted. Ever the accountant, Charles points to one simple statistic when asked to explain his passion for nurses. “Twenty percent”, he says. “One in five.” That’s the mortality change that we see comparing a nurse with a four-year degree to a nurse with a two-year degree.” Twenty percent might not seem like much to some, but for someone who lived and breathed numbers for several decades, twenty percent is more than enough to realize a change must be made.
Florida’s population is growing rapidly. According to a 2016 U.S Census Bureau update, Florida holds 10 of the top 25 fastest-growing metro areas in the country. Not only is Florida one of the fastest growing states in the country, it is also the oldest state in the country, with 17 percent of residents over age 65. Fueled by the gaining Baby Boomer population, chronic disease is rising, and the nursing workforce is retiring. Combine this with the limited capacity of nursing schools and the increasing complexity of technologies and patient care, and you find Florida at a crucial tipping point. Nurses are more important now than ever, and are working with patients throughout more steps of their healthcare than in the past.
This is not a problem that is going to resolve itself. Achieving a bachelor’s degree is no simple task and it comes with hefty price tag. Beyond the time and financial commitment that is required of a nursing student, there is also a scarcity of educational programs ready to equip those students with the desperately needed bachelor’s degrees. With resources scarce on both sides of the issue, and the health of the community on the line, many universities and hospitals are turning to SNAC for assistance.
SNAC provides resources both tangible and intangible to the cause. Rooted in a love for the community and a desire for positive health outcomes, SNAC helps provide scholarships and clear pathways for nurses interested in furthering their education. Whether they are a nursing student or currently working as a nurse, SNAC is there to help. SNAC created a Nursing Education Navigator to serve as an advisor and to counsel those who are considering nursing as a potential career. With the help of local foundations and donors, SNAC has provided over $140,000 dollars across over 35 scholarships to students in the area. The committee’s efforts continue to grow and are seeing a marked increase in nursing students. Their goal is to see 80% of nurses in the workforce claim their BSN degree, or pursue higher education.
For more information on SNAC and the work they are doing, please visit SNAC4FL.org, or follow @SNAC4FL on Twitter.