Putting Education Reform To The Test

Why Florida Colleges Include Nursing As A STEM Job

Joe Radle / Getty Images News

Lissette Marquez (C) who said she was laid off in February from her nursing job and Amiel Ali who said he has been out of work since October 2012, look for job opportunities with the help of South Florida Workforce customer service representative, Nelson Munoz (L) February 1, 2013 in Miami, Florida.

Almost one-third of the bachelor’s degrees bestowed upon graduates from the Florida College System (FCS) are in STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — fields.

More than half of those STEM-related degrees are in nursing, according to a Florida College System study that shows the economic boost Florida gets from its 28 state colleges.

It’s a statistic that’s not lost on University of South Florida President Judy Genshaft.

“I would like to add another “M” to the STEM because it’s science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medical degrees,” Genshaft said. “The job markets are there. We have many new companies looking for the workforce in STEM degrees.”

“The Florida College System has always been focused on STEM degrees, not only in our traditional transfer program, but also in all of the workforce development programs that we have,” said FCS Chancellor Randy Hanna. “Nursing is a perfect example.”

While nursing isn’t always considered a STEM field, Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity thinks it is.

Governor Rick Scott announced more than 56,000 online job postings in STEM related fields in January.  “Registered Nurses” topped the list, accounting for almost a third of the openings.

Nursing isn’t included on the recently expanded Department of Homeland Security’s STEM Designate Degree Programs list.

But, “many of the subjects that nurses study are on the DHS program list including human biology, nutrition sciences, biological and physical sciences, chemistry, bio-chemistry, medical microbiology and bacteriology,” said FCS Vice Chancellor for Research & Analytics Scott Parke.

Parke says other federal agencies are expanding their STEM lists to include “the broad umbrella field of healthcare – which includes nursing.”  


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