Newswise — Three South Florida counties that collectively are home to the largest metropolitan population in the state will soon be served by an academic health network that is a true collaboration of the region’s leading public and private academic and medical leaders.

More than 3 million residents currently live in the three-county region, with the numbers growing daily. Florida has an estimated shortage of 60,000 nurses, and a shortage of more than 17,000 doctors is anticipated. The FAU Health Network will not only meet these growing patient-care needs, but also will address these workforce challenges.

“This partnership marks the beginning of a transformative health network for our region,” said Brad Levine, chair of the FAU Board of Trustees. “I am thrilled to see all our partners come together to meet these vitally important needs. The time is now because the need is now.”

The region’s partners in Broward, Palm Beach and Martin counties offer an outstanding opportunity for dynamic faculty and learner experiences and will provide connectivity to the local health care community, ensuring the recruitment and retention of skilled health care professionals.

“This collaboration will transcend the competitive landscape and help us all work toward augmenting South Florida’s existing health care infrastructure to reach our common goal: ‘Best-in-class patient care,’” said Shane Strum, president and chief executive officer of Broward Health.

This all-encompassing partnership also will enhance clinical trials and provide access to these medical innovations to the local population, focused health care needs matched to the region’s population, and provide localized solutions that will eliminate the need for travel for services only available outside the region.

“As keen collaborators, we at Memorial recognize that when medical research is combined with the patient care providers, the long-term benefits for the region’s growing — and aging — population can’t be understated,” said Douglas A. Harrison, chair of the Board of Commissioners of Memorial Healthcare System.

While patient care needs are paramount, expanding the region’s health-related teaching and research infrastructure is vital.

“This network is essential for the future of our community,” said Ava Parker, president of Palm Beach State College. “The migration to Florida has led to a critical shortage in health care professionals. Coming together to address the workforce challenge is critically important.”

These academic endeavors will allow for the innovative solutions necessary to tackle the workforce crisis. The goal is to expand annual enrollments to graduate more than 300 nurses, 104 medical doctors, and 150 social workers a year. Resident training programs also will expand to address the doctor shortage.

“This collaboration will bring together the vital health components that exist separately across the region,” said Darcy J. Davis, chief executive officer of the Health Care District of Palm Beach County. “The growing patient population in our community will benefit from expanded access to innovative care.”

Initial partners include: FAU, Broward College, Palm Beach State College, Memorial Healthcare System, Health District of Palm Beach County and Broward Health. More details will be provided as the partnership develops.

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About Florida Atlantic University: Florida Atlantic University, established in 1961, officially opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University serves more than 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students across six campuses located along the southeast Florida coast. In recent years, the University has doubled its research expenditures and outpaced its peers in student achievement rates. Through the coexistence of access and excellence, FAU embodies an innovative model where traditional achievement gaps vanish. FAU is designated a Hispanic-serving institution, ranked as a top public university by U.S. News & World Report and a High Research Activity institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. For more information, visit