The Areawide Council on Aging of Broward County predicts that by 2020, Florida will have a population of more than 23.5 million people, and people over the age of 60 will make up over 28 percent of that population. Hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, doctors' offices, and other facilities throughout the state are likely to rely on professionals who have graduated from accredited healthcare schools in Florida to care for such a large number of senior citizens.
Unfortunately, according to the Florida Center for Nursing, more than 40 percent of nurses in Florida are approaching retirement age within the next 10 years, and there are not enough younger nurses who have graduated from the best healthcare colleges in Florida to replace them. There is likely to be a significant nursing shortage in the state by 2025, which should create an enormous number of opportunities for trained medical professionals who have studied from the many online healthcare programs Florida has to offer.
As of 2019, the Sunshine State is home to 186 hospitals, such as the Tampa General Hospital, Jackson Memorial Hospital, and UF Health Shands Hospital. In addition to doctors and physicians, these establishments require nurses, medical assistants, physical therapy assistants, radiologic technologists and many other kinds of healthcare professionals in order to care for their patients. Hospitals also require administrative support to keep their facilities running smoothly. Vital tasks such as medical billing and coding, office administration and general management may not be performed by medical practitioners, but are a crucial part of healthcare — and the healthcare job market — just the same.
3 Facts About Healthcare in Florida
- Since hospitals in South Florida are facing a nursing shortage, many of them are offering tuition reimbursement, loan forgiveness, and other incentives for the nurses they hire. For example, at Bethesda Hospital in Boynton Beach, nurses can receive signing bonuses and on-site childcare.
- Since 1954, the Florida Health Care Association (FHCA) has served as Florida's advocate for long term care providers and the elders they serve. The organization represents over 82 percent of the nursing centers in the state and includes more than 1,000 individuals and nearly 600 long term care centers.
- The Healthcare Advocacy Council was founded by the Florida Alliance for Healthcare Value. It's an invitation-only group of providers, hospitals and insurance carriers who are committed to improving the state of healthcare in Florida. The council meets regularly to discuss how to ensure quality healthcare to all Florida residents.
Most Popular Healthcare Degrees in Florida
Below is our ranking of the most popular Healthcare degrees in Florida, based off how many degrees of each type were awarded by Florida schools in the 2017-18 school year.
Best Healthcare Careers in Florida
While healthcare-related occupations may be similar from state to state, factors such as the performance of certain industries, the makeup of certain populations, or even the climate and environment of a location can change the need and responsibilities of a career. A medical coder who works for a physical therapy office in Chicago is likely to handle very different cases as opposed to a medical coder employed by a dentist office in Los Angeles.
For example, since seniors continue to retire in Florida, there are many high-end retirement communities that could use massage therapists from online healthcare programs in Florida to provide their residents with regular massages and other forms of physical therapy. As another example, the hot Florida summers can pose serious risks for pet owners in the state, which has created increased demand for veterinary technologists and technicians.
How to pick a healthcare major that's best for you?
Before you enroll in school, it's important to consider what kind of healthcare major you might want to pursue. The best healthcare schools in Florida host a variety of different online healthcare programs, but not every school offers every program. Consider what kind of career(s) you might be interested in earning after graduating from school so you can consider what kind of online healthcare program might be best for you.
- Those who love animals and possess "soft" skills such as empathy and good communication may consider majoring in veterinary science. This could help them to become a veterinary technologist or technician at a large veterinary hospital such as the Northwest Florida Animal Clinic or DPC Veterinary Hospital.
- Students who would prefer to work in a variety of healthcare environments, or who anticipate moving frequently, might find nursing to be a good fit. Nurses from online healthcare schools in Florida are widely seen in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, outpatient clinics, and various other places throughout the Sunshine State. If you like traveling, you may even wish to look into becoming a travel nurse after graduating from an online nursing program.
- Since Florida is packed with luxurious spas (such as the Spa at Breakers in Miami and Acqualina Resort & Spa in Sunny Isles Beach), massage therapy programs at online healthcare schools in Florida may be an option for students who would be interested in working in a high-end setting. Treating spa guests to an enjoyable massage experience can be less stressful than working in a busy hospital, yet can still benefit the health of clients, which can make it an enticing career choice for students who wish to help others.
Best Online Healthcare Schools in Florida
OnlineColleges.com's list of the best online healthcare schools in Florida is intended to assist prospective students in choosing a healthcare school that is right for their interests and career aspirations. Each school on our ranking offers a degree or certificate program in a healthcare-related subject, either in an online or hybrid format. Data from the National Center of Education Statistics was used to formulate our list, using factors such as availability of tuition plans, amount of financial aid awarded and variety of credit offerings.
All healthcare students should be aware that many online healthcare programs require some form of face-to-face learning at some point. Some schools may require students to take specific courses on-campus rather than online. Some schools may require only certain labs or exams to be conducted in person. Some schools have arrangements with other schools or hospitals around the country to allow distance learners to satisfy in-person requirements at a facility in their area. Always ask what your program and/or courses may require of you before committing to an online healthcare program.
Through UF Online, healthcare students have many options to choose from, including a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, a Master of Science in Pharmacy, or a Doctor of Nursing Practice. Various certificate options can help broaden students' healthcare skills, in subjects such as medical anatomy and physiology, patient safety in medication use or public health. There is an eight-semester academic plan for full-time online students, as well as a longer plan for those who choose to enroll on a part-time basis.
The Canvas learning platform is used to deliver all online courses at the University of Florida. Some of the university's online courses are taught in a synchronous format, while others are delivered asynchronously.
UCF Online offers a complete path for students who are interested in nursing, starting with the online Bachelor of Science in Nursing, moving up to the Master of Science in Nursing, and culminating in the high-level DNP. The school also offers a Bachelor of Science in Health Services Administration for students who would like to pursue leadership careers in healthcare. In addition, a Master of Science in Social Work, which requires the completion of 32-credit hours in a cohort model, is also available.
Online courses through UCF Online follow a semester schedule and may be taught either synchronously or asynchronously through an online platform called Webcourses@UCF.
The online Bachelor of Health Science degree program at Nova Southeastern University can be the perfect path for respiratory therapists, radiology technicians, dental hygienists and other professionals who would like to advance in the healthcare field. NSU is also a solid source of online nursing education, featuring an RN-to-BSN bridge program, a Ph.D. in nursing with a focus on nursing education, and a DNP doctoral program. If none of these options are what you need, consider instead a Bachelor of Science in speech-language and communication disorders, a Master of Public Health or a Master of Science in Nutrition.
Most online courses at NSU are taught in an asynchronous format through the Canvas learning platform. They follow the same semester schedule that the on-campus courses adhere to.
Florida State University, one of the top accredited healthcare schools in Florida, is an excellent place for students to learn how to support the mental health of others. Most online courses at FSU are asynchronous and adhere to a semester schedule. The online Master of Science in social work is a part-time program designed specifically for professionals who hold undergraduate degrees in fields other than social work.
Those who already have experience as social workers may be interested instead in the online Leadership in Executive and Administrative Development (LEAD) certificate program. There is also an online psychiatric mental health certificate program available for certified family and adult nurse practitioner graduates who would like to expand their knowledge in advanced practice psychiatric mental health nursing of family.
Many online healthcare degree programs at Florida International University are offered at various start times throughout the years and delivered in an asynchronous format via the Canvas learning platform. A subject of particular interest at FIU is health service administration, a subject that focuses on the engineering and financial management of health organizations, available at both the bachelor's and master's level.
As with many other top online healthcare schools in Florida, FIU also features a strong focus on nursing, with a BSN designed for registered nurses, a healthcare MBA program and a DNP program. In addition, there is FIU's online graduate certificate in nursing education. This program is designed for students who are planning to enroll in the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program, or who are currently enrolled in the MSN program and wish to earn a dual MSN and Nursing Educator certificate.
The University of South Florida, one of the best accredited healthcare schools in Florida, offers an online BSN program for registered nurses that consists of 30 credit hours of coursework. An online Master of Science in speech-language pathology, a Master of Science in health informatics, and a Master of Science in pharmaceutical nanotechnology are also available.
Students looking to develop their skills may be intrigued by USF's various online graduate certificates in healthcare. These include teaching in pharmacy, healthcare analytics, clinical investigation, or NanoPharmaceutics. While some of these programs can be completed entirely online, others are hybrid programs.
USF's online courses follow a semester schedule and are taught through the Canvas learning platform, some synchronously and others asynchronously.
Florida Atlantic University stands out from the crowd of online healthcare schools in Florida with a roster of unique online graduate programs in nursing. The school's online Master of Science healthcare programs include nursing administrative and financial leadership; advanced holistic nursing; clinical nurse leadership; and a hybrid program for nurse educators. Undergraduate nursing students can benefit from FAU as well; the university has an online BSN program that is 32 credit hours in length, designed for working RNs who hold a diploma or associate degree in nursing.
Most online courses at FAU are delivered in an asynchronous format through the Blackboard online learning platform. They follow the school's term schedule.
Florida National University is one of the few schools on our list with a prominent associate-level healthcare program. The online Associate of Arts in health services administration is for students who plan on pursuing a higher-level degree in health services administration, as well as those looking to earn an entry-level supervisory role in the healthcare field.
FNU uses the Blackboard learning system to deliver online courses, which are all taught asynchronously in semesters. In addition to the A.A. described above, FNU offers an online BSN program; a B.S. in health services administration; a B.S. in respiratory therapy; and an MSN program.
Through the University of West Florida's Global Online Campus, students can pursue a B.S. in health sciences, which can help them become health professionals and administrators who are empowered to promote the health of the populations they serve.
The UWF Global Online Campus also offers a BSN, a Master of Healthcare Administration, and an MSN with a choice of two specializations: "nursing education" or "nursing executive." Online certificate programs in health informatics and public health are available as well. Courses are delivered through the Canvas learning platform and may be taught in an asynchronous or synchronous format.
At Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, online graduate programs in healthcare are delivered asynchronously via the Blackboard learning platform. They follow the school's semester schedule.
High-quality healthcare education may not be the first thing you expect from an agricultural and mechanical university, but FAMU is looking to defy your expectations. FAMU Online offers an MSN program that gives students the chance to complete their classroom credit hours online while gaining clinical experience wherever they live. There is also an online Master of Public Health program — the first accredited public health program in North Florida — which can be completed in 50 credit hours full-time.
Professional Healthcare Organizations in Florida
Professional healthcare organizations can be highly beneficial to students who are enrolled in online healthcare programs in Florida. They can create chances to connect with others in the healthcare industry and learn about open job and internship opportunities. Here are a few examples of organizations that students of accredited healthcare schools in Florida may want to join.