From left: Randy Surber, chief executive officer and president of Florida Hospital Heartland; Cathy Jaco, chief nursing officer and vice president of Patient Care Services for Florida Hospital Heartland; Mary von Merveldt, SFSC director of nursing education; and Dr. Thomas C. Leitzel, SFSC president

Florida Hospital Heartland Medical Center generously donated $75,000 to SFSC to fund additional nursing faculty and expand the program to meet a critical need for nurses in the region.

With the demand for nurses expected to rise by 20 percent over the next 10 years, those who obtain nursing degrees from SFSC have a 100 percent job placement rate. Many students obtain jobs before graduation day.

“We are extremely proud of the quality education delivered by our nursing faculty,” said Dr. Thomas C. Leitzel, president of SFSC. “The partnership that SFSC enjoys with Florida Hospital Heartland Medical Center is outstanding for students and the community. The first-class clinical experience provided by Florida Hospital prepares our students with the practical education to complement the theoretical immersion they receive in their college courses.”

“For many decades, SFSC and Florida Hospital have worked in tandem to improve the health and wellness of the Heartland community. SFSC’s nursing curriculum provides highly-knowledgeable nurses to care for our ever growing and aging population with compassion and kindness. Our partnership leads to improved patient safety and higher-quality care which helps sustain and build our community. It also helps Florida Hospital to extend the healing ministry of Christ,” said Randy Surber, chief executive officer and president of Florida Hospital Heartland.

SFSC’s associate degree program in nursing was ranked as tied for first among 1,247 programs in the nation by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, an independent, non-profit organization that is composed of boards of nursing who assure that safe and competent care is provided by licensed nurses. For 2017, SFSC had a 100 percent passing rate for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) for July through September, which directly influenced this ranking. The perfect score was significantly higher than the national average of 84.24 percent during this time period. The college also received the ranking of tied for first in its service area and among similar programs nationwide. The NCLEX exam determines whether or not students are prepared for licensure in nursing.

Randy Surber signs the $75,000 check.

“It is an honor to support SFSC with this donation. We have been repeatedly inspired by the outstanding nursing programs overseen and led by Dr. Heston and the partnership between the College and Florida Hospital Heartland Medical Center,” said Cathy Jaco, chief nursing officer and vice president of Patient Care Services for Florida Hospital Heartland.

“The demand for nurses is extremely high in our service district and to support this demand, Florida Hospital has generously provided funding,” said Dr. Michele Heston, dean of health sciences at SFSC. “With the hospital’s support, we can expand the capacity of our nursing programs at SFSC and create a mutually beneficial academic-practice partnership where we maximize our resources, maintain cost-effective education and health care, and develop a clear career pathway for our graduates.”

SFSC currently offers an online Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), an Associate of Science in Nursing to become a Registered Nurse (RN), an Associate of Science in Nursing to transition from Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) to RN, and an occupational certificate in practical nursing.

For more information about SFSC’s nursing program, contact Sara McGann, health services specialist at SFSC, at 863-784-7027 or