FORT LAUDERDALE — Nearly five million people in the United States live with heart failure. To assure that South Florida cardiovascular patients receive care from knowledgeable and skilled nurses, Broward College’s Continuing Education and Workforce Development program is offering a new Advanced Heart Failure course.

This class is now included amongst a wide variety of specialty nursing offerings, such as Emergency Nursing and Critical Care Nursing courses, which were created through the Broward Specialty Nursing Consortium. This partnership, which consists of the North Broward and South Broward hospital districts, Holy Cross Hospital and the Cleveland Clinic, is designed to meet the immediate needs of the constantly changing South Florida health care environment. The consortium, organizers say, is a unique partnership, unlike anywhere in the United States, between the college and a group of medical professionals.

“Broward College is honored to be a part of the Broward Specialty Nursing Consortium and to work with so many wonderful health systems,” said Donna Merolle, dean of continuing education and workforce development. “What we are doing is completely unprecedented because there is no other partnership like this between hospital systems and colleges anywhere in the United States.”

The training could help South Florida’s black community. According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the number one killer in the United States. The risk is higher for black people, who are more prone to high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity — factors associated with cardiovascular conditions.

The Broward Specialty Nursing Consortium was formed more than 10 years ago with the goal of pooling resources and educating nurses. The consortium now covers 11 hospitals within the four major health systems and educates a diverse group of nurses. In 2014, Broward College had more than 1,000 students taking specialty training courses.

Each course is designed to be in a blended learning format, where students split their time learning individually, through online-computer based learning systems, and in the classroom. Nurses also learn through simulation in Broward College’s Health Science Simulation Center, and some courses have a clinical requirement, where students work in hospitals. Providing this blended format allows nurses to be engaged in the learning process, meeting their individual learning styles.

“Last year, when a need for more perioperative nurses was identified, we created a Perioperative Nursing course to prepare nurses for this specialty,” said Mimi Weber, administrative director and chief learning officer of organizational development at Memorial Healthcare System. “The new Advance Heart Failure course is another wonderful example of how Broward College continues to be an invaluable resource to the community by responding to the needs of many local hospitals.”

For more information on Broward College’s Continuing Education and Workforce Development Nursing program, visit