LAKELAND (July 15, 2021) – Florida Southern College today announced the new Ann Blanton Edwards School of Nursing and Health Sciences. The Florida Southern College nursing program is nationally recognized for educational excellence, and the opportunity to have a named school of nursing reflects the world-class quality of the curriculum, faculty, graduates, and current students.
“Together, with the increasingly high demand for skilled nurses in Central Florida and across our nation, we continue to see record enrollment in our undergraduate and graduate nursing programs,” said Dr. Anne B. Kerr, president of Florida Southern College. “In gratitude for a transformative gift by our generous donors, Ann and Ward Edwards, we look forward to further expanding and enhancing Florida Southern’s strong academic commitment to training America’s future nurses, nurse practitioners, administrative leaders, and nursing educators.”
The Ann Blanton Edwards School of Nursing and Health Sciences houses FSC’s undergraduate Exercise Science degree, as well as the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degrees.
“We are delighted to support the important work of Florida Southern’s nursing and health sciences faculty, staff, and students, especially at a time when the demand for highly trained and dedicated healthcare professionals has never been more critical,” said Ann Blanton Edwards of Lakeland, an FSC Trustee and retired nurse. “This expansion will benefit our community in meaningful ways while providing the best possible paths for students to establish successful and rewarding careers. I’m grateful to be able to build upon my mother’s strong support for nursing education, as shown by her gift to create the Blanton Nursing Building in 2009, and my father’s legacy of investing in healthcare and individual talent.”
The growth of the College’s graduate and undergraduate nursing programs corresponds with the outlook nationally for careers in nursing. According to the American Nurses Association, more jobs for registered nurses will be available through 2022 than for any other profession in the U.S., and employment opportunities in nursing are projected to increase by 15 percent in the next five years, a faster rate than all other occupations.
FSC’s rigorous baccalaureate and MSN and DNP degree programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
An outstanding measure of the College’s high-achieving nursing programs can be seen in the stellar pre-licensure NCLEX pass rates of its graduates. In 2018, students in the BSN pre-licensure program earned a 100 percent first-time pass rate; over a three-year average, graduates have earned a 96 percent pass rate, significantly exceeding the U.S. average of 88.29 percent. Nurse practitioner certification pass rates also are well above the national mean.
“More than 2,000 alumni of our nursing programs provide quality nursing care, at all levels of practice, to the Lakeland community and beyond,” said Dr. Linda Comer, professor of nursing and dean of the School of Nursing and Health Sciences. “With the addition of two new Master of Science in Nursing degree tracks and two new certificates, Florida Southern’s growing graduate nursing programs are positioned to have a lasting and substantive impact on the future of healthcare.”
Florida Southern College has purchased the St. Joseph’s Academy property at 310 Frank Lloyd Wright Way to serve as the new home for its Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree programs in the new Ann Blanton Edwards Nursing School. Formerly owned by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orlando, the property includes separate church and school buildings and 160 paved parking spaces. St. Joseph’s closed its doors in May 2020 to merge with other Catholic schools in Polk County.
The relocation of Florida Southern’s graduate nursing programs to the St. Joseph’s property adds to the College’s existing nursing and healthcare corridor. The property is located between the Jean and Sal Campisi, Sr., Academic Center for Physical Therapy on South Florida Avenue and the Joe K. and Alberta Blanton Nursing Building on the main campus. Named in honor of Ann Blanton Edwards’s late parents, the Blanton Nursing Building will continue as the academic home for FSC’s undergraduate nursing programs.
FSC’s nursing and healthcare corridor also includes the exercise science program in Edge Hall and the Carol Jenkins Barnett Center for Early Childhood Learning and Health, which in 2020 brought together the School of Education and the School of Nursing and Health Sciences for a unique interdisciplinary program.