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As the pandemic highlights the nation’s nursing shortage, new schools are opening in an attempt to close the gap. One new educational opportunity for aspiring BSNs and LPNs in 2021 is the Herzing University Tampa campus.

To learn more about Herzing University’s essay in Tampa, DailyNurse spoke to Jeff Cross, president of both the Tampa and Orlando campuses.

DailyNurse: Why did you decide to open a campus in Tampa, and why now?

Jeff Cross: “We’re bringing our proven nursing education approach to Tampa because there is such a strong need for registered nurses across the region. Herzing University has been educating nursing students in the Orlando area since 2006 and we understand the unique needs of the Florida population. We have strong clinical and community relationships throughout central Florida and we’re excited to be a part of the Tampa healthcare community.”

DN: What is the Herzing philosophy of nursing and/or your approach to nurse education?

Jeff Cross, president of Herzing University Tampa and Orlando campuses

Cross: “Herzing University uses a combination of adaptive learning for general education, simulation learning once students enter core nursing classes and high-quality, diverse clinical experiences for hands-on training and interaction with actual patients. This combination results in students who have the confidence and skills needed to be a well-prepared nurse the day they graduate. Beyond ensuring each student has the necessary skills and knowledge, Herzing has a philanthropic component built into its curriculum. Each student must complete a certain number of clinical hours (varies by program) in a community services capacity, which could include providing health and wellness checks at a homeless shelter, administering flu shots at a free clinic, or many other opportunities. We are excited about the opportunity to give back to the Tampa area community.”

DN: What are the most salient points of your plan to keep students safe when you open?

Cross: “Herzing takes student safety seriously and we have rigorous plans in place to ensure the health of the students, faculty, and staff. We practice S.A.F.E. education through the following procedures: Screening, Access, Face Coverings, and Enhanced safety measures. Anyone entering the campus is required to complete health screenings and temperature checks. As of now, access to the campus is for students who choose to come in person for labs and skills checks, but we will continue to monitor the situation and follow state guidelines. Everyone must always wear a mask and gloves are required in labs, which we provide to students. We are also practicing social distancing and enhanced cleaning protocols.”

DN: Do you expect to offer in-person classes, or a combination of in-person and online teaching?

Cross: “Students will begin coursework 100% online. Students may visit the campus on a limited basis for skills check-ins with instructors or to use the simulation learning labs. We also offer virtual simulation capabilities that allow students to practice skills work in a virtual environment from their home or any location. Herzing is committed to following the guidance provided by local and state agencies as it relates to the latest COVID-19 recommendations and adjusting policies when it’s safe to do so.”

DN: Have you made plans to accommodate students’ need for clinicals time during the pandemic? Are your local healthcare partners going to allow students to work with patients?

Cross: “We are very excited to offer students virtual simulation options to complete the clinical components of their coursework. Core nursing classes will begin in the fall, so students wouldn’t reach the clinical part of their program until late 2021. The coronavirus situation is changing rapidly, so it is difficult to say exactly what a student would be doing by this time next year. However, virtual simulation has been approved by the Florida Board of Nursing as an option for students to complete their clinical experiences. We will continue to make adjustments as needed to ensure our students are able to complete all components of their nursing program without delay.” 

DN: Do you have any advice for students who want to become LPNs, or for nurses who want to work toward their BSN at this time?

Cross: “Your community needs you now more than ever before! We can help you achieve your nursing credential goal in a safe way, so please don’t let the coronavirus deter you. We provide year-round instruction so you can enter the workforce as soon as possible, pending licensure, and we also offer a number of pathways and bridge program options that provide degree credits for prior training, education and work experience.”  

Jeff Cross is the president of Herzing University’s Tampa and Orlando campuses. He can be reached at jcross@herzing.edu. The Tampa campus is currently accepting applications. To find out more about the accredited nursing programs offered at Herzing University-Tampa, visit the school website or call 813-285-5281 to speak with an admissions advisor.

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