SPC to enhance health education programs to combat nursing shortage

PINELLAS COUNTY — A transformational gift from The Hough Family Foundation has provided St. Petersburg College with the seed funding needed to grow its nursing, certified clinical medical assistant (CMA) and patient care technician (PCT) programs.

The transformational gift will be used to expand SPC’s nursing simulation lab and provide additional training equipment and faculty support for the CMA and PCT programs.

“Bill and Hazel Hough were true philanthropists who worked tirelessly for their community. Longtime supporters of St. Petersburg College, they helped found our performance venue gem — The Palladium — and improved the lives of many students over the years,” said SPC President Tonjua Williams. “We miss them terribly, but their spirits live on through their foundation and their beloved children. We are grateful beyond measure for this generous gift, which will help promote equity and excellence in education for our students and access to high-quality healthcare professionals for our community.”

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, by 2026, there is a projected 21 percent job growth for nurses in Florida. With the increase of COVID-19 testing and the high demand for healthcare workers even before the pandemic, employers are in even greater need of trained medical assistants at outpatient clinics and urgent care centers.

To combat these healthcare needs, SPC is prepared to greatly increase the number of nursing students through simulation expansion.

“The College of Nursing is so honored and grateful for the generous gift by the Hough family to our frontline workers,” said SPC Dean of Nursing Louisana Louis. “Words cannot express the difference this expansion will make in providing the additional space to educate student nurses while making a difference in our community.”

Expanding SPC’s simulation lab will:

  • Offer an alternative learning environment needed due to decreasing hospital time and space
  • Provide a safe, non-threatening learning environment for students to demonstrate their clinical judgment and critical thinking abilities
  • Allow faculty to use a controlled environment to create or choose scenarios to meet specific learning objectives without risk to an actual patient

SPC also offers a variety of healthcare programs to help students advance their skill sets. The expansion of workforce institute programs will include:

  • Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CMA)
  • Patient Care Tech (PCT)
  • Cath Lab Tech

“Many people have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. We wanted to grow the capacity of the CMA training by doubling the number of students who complete the 18-week training and then can enter the medical field immediately,” said Dr. Susan Hough Henry, President of Hough Family Foundation, Inc. “SPC is very responsive to the needs of its students, and thoroughly prepares them to enter the workforce.”

Michael Ramsey, SPC Dean of Workforce, said the donation will allow students to pursue their passion for helping others while providing a pipeline of skilled workers for area healthcare facilities.

“We are extremely thankful for this gift from the Hough Family Foundation. Their generosity will enable us to launch a new Patient Care Technician program and expand our Certified Clinical Medical Assistant program at the SPC Midtown Center,” Ramsey said. “These programs will help to open the door to a career in the healthcare field to the members of this community.”

To learn more about SPC’s health education programs, visit spcollege.edu/health.

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