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UWG-Newnan Gift to Address Key Nursing Shortage Issues

The recent announcement of Newnan Hospital’s $2 million gift to UWG-Newnan’s School of Nursing addresses two key issues in the national nursing shortage: the need for more well-equipped facilities and for faculty development.

In this archived photograph a nursing students tends to a hi-tech simulator, an artificial patient who mimics the real thing. School officials hope to get more equipment and expand the facilities to enhance student training.

In this archived photograph a nursing students tends to a hi-tech simulator, an artificial patient who mimics the real thing. School officials hope to get more equipment and expand the facilities to enhance student training.

It is the largest one-time gift in University of West Georgia history.

“The gift is marvelous,” said Kathryn Grams, dean of the School of Nursing. “It does what we need to do to get us going.”

Cathy Wright, director of UWG-Newnan, said the money officially changes hands in April. School officials are scheduled to discuss the gift and what they can do with it during a meeting in October.

Grams said the School of Nursing hopes to add to its existing skills labs, which come with hi-tech simulators — artificial patients who breathe, bleed and talk. But the school needs more. The skills labs place students in the medical environments they will encounter in the real world: an intensive care unit, a labor and delivery room, a pediatrics room and a community health unit.

“The money would allow us to significantly add on to that part of the building,” Grams said. “We are in the process of defining what we want and what we need, as well as how to move forward with it. It’s exciting. There are so many opportunities.”

The Newnan program began in 2005 and graduated 26 students in 2007. This year, 41 students from Newnan are expected to graduate, Grams said. Overall there are about 400 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in West Georgia’s School of Nursing.

The part-time program at the Newnan campus allows students to work and raise families while continuing their education.

The other half of Newnan Hospital’s gift is an endowment for faculty development. The endowment will allow the school to increase the number of faculty and also help the school develop the faculty as teachers and scholars.

A number of factors have contributed to the nursing shortage. As the population ages, the need increases. But the supply of nurses has gone down as women found more opportunities in the labor market.

“Today young women can be what they want,” Grams said.

And the nurses themselves are aging.

“They are beginning to retire,” she said. “We have people who want to be nurses, so that’s improved. That’s why this gift helps us address these two major issues, space and faculty.”

Nursing Facts

According to a report released by the American Health Care Association in July 2008, more than 19,400 RN vacancies exist in long-term care settings. These vacancies, coupled with an additional 116,000 open positions in hospitals reported by the American Hospital Association in July 2007, bring the total RN vacancies in the U.S. to more than 135,000. This translates into a national RN vacancy rate of 8.1 percent.

Source: American Association of College and Nursing.


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