Lake-Sumter State College receives LINE funds to support nursing students and strengthen local healthcare pathways

Lake-Sumter State College has received $400,000 from the Florida Department of Education through the Linking Industry to Nursing Education (LINE) Grant program to match $400,000 in donations to the LSSC Foundation from local hospital partners.

The Florida Legislature established the LINE fund to encourage collaboration between nursing programs and health care partners to combat the growing nursing shortage in the state of Florida.

These funds will significantly bolster the college’s nursing programs by reducing financial barriers for students and preparing them for careers in the extremely high-demand field of nursing.

Building on decades-long partnerships, Lake-Sumter State College will work with Orlando Health South Lake Hospital and AdventHealth Waterman to ensure that the LSSC program continues its record of excellence in producing highly skilled and competent nursing graduates who are well-equipped to meet the healthcare demands of our community.

“Lake-Sumter State College appreciates the generous support of our healthcare partners who have been an integral part of our program’s expansion over the last several years,” says Dr. Heather Bigard, President. “We are proud to work together to train highly educated nurses and other allied health professionals to meet incredible local workforce demands. Thank you to Governor DeSantis, Commissioner Diaz, and the Florida Legislature for their leadership and support of state college nursing programs with the LINE Grant matching funds program.”

As demand for nurses and healthcare professionals continues to grow, LSSC programs have expanded capacity to support these needs. In the last five years, capacity in the College’s AS Nursing program has tripled to 240 new students annually. By 2025, the program will enroll 300 nursing students each year.

The Florida Hospital Association estimates that the state of Florida will face a shortage of 37,000 nurses by 2035.

In addition, the College has added new programs to support a wide range of patient care needs including medical lab technology, respiratory care, and physical therapy.

Advanced Nursing Simulation Experiences

With the support of Orlando Health South Lake Hospital and the LiveWell Foundation of South Lake, LSSC has expanded its nursing simulation center on the South Lake Campus. This expansion adds more patient care simulations to meet the growing student population and, for the first time, include immersive VR/AR technologies as part of the learning experience.

“It’s been our great privilege to have Lake-Sumter State College as an education partner. We’ve worked together on several initiatives, including developing a dedicated education unit for student nurses that is located on our hospital campus,” said Lance Sewell, president, Orlando Health South Lake Hospital. “We were pleased to provide the grant, which served not only as an investment in our future nurses but also in our patients and community as a whole.”

Simulation is an important aspect of the learning experience and provides students with practical training experiences and the opportunity to review the scenarios and debrief with their instructor.

“The LiveWell Foundation of South Lake is grateful to Lake-Sumter State College and Orlando Health South Lake Hospital for their willingness to participate in the LINE grant program,” said Donna Kirtland, Executive Director. “This state opportunity provides a huge value to our community and supports education, our local economy and — most importantly – bolsters the growth of health care providers in our community.”

RN-BSN Cohort for Existing Nurses

In collaboration with AdventHealth Waterman and their foundation, LSSC will launch a cohort in its RN-BSN program of current AdventHealth Waterman nurses.

“We are excited to expand our partnership with Lake-Sumter State College by investing in the education of our nurses,” said Abel Biri, CEO, AdventHealth Waterman. “LSSC offers a great education experience and we are pleased to offer our registered nurses the opportunity to continue their education and advance within our organization. Together, we look forward to making improvements to patient care in our community.”

Hospitals and providers are increasingly prioritizing hiring BSN-prepared nurses due to their strong educational foundation that emphasizes collaboration and evidence-based practice. BSN-prepared nurses possess a broader understanding of healthcare, including leadership, research and critical-thinking skills, which are essential in today’s system.

This program will cover all the costs – including tuition, fees, and books – for 24 nurses to earn their BSN from Lake-Sumter State College and support additional faculty in this expanding program.

The hospital will identify the nurses from their current workforce and the cohort will enroll starting Fall 2024. These RNs will earn their BSN in 5 semesters or 18 months. LSSC’s online BSN program incorporates experiences from the RNs daily work into the curriculum.

“The AdventHealth Waterman Foundation is proud to be a partner in providing an avenue for nurses at AdventHealth to accelerate their educational aspirations,” said Mabel Valdivia, Executive Director.  “This investment and continued partnership between Lake-Sumter State College and AdventHealth Waterman not only supports the professional growth of nurses but also enhances the quality of healthcare services available to our community.”

Enrollment Opportunities

Individuals interested in a career in healthcare or advancing their career are encouraged to learn more about the programs available at Lake-Sumter State College.  Visit to get started and learn more.