BRUNSWICK, Georgia: March 25, 2022 – Southeast Georgia Health System has committed to a $2M Expansion Partnership with the College of Coastal Georgia (CCGA) to increase the number of registered nurses in the community through a five year process.
“The success of this partnership will reap benefits for each organization individually, but more importantly, patients and students will see immediate advantages through an improved patient care experience and more options as a student aspiring to become a nurse,” said Kay Hampton, RN, MSN, chair, Southeast Georgia Health System, Inc.
“With a nursing shortage flooding our nation, including here in our own community, it is imperative to make nursing programs a priority and more readily available to eligible students,” added Scott Raynes, MBA, MA, president and CEO, Southeast Georgia Health System. “This partnership will enhance the College of Coastal Georgia’s ability to enroll more students. Today the upper limit that can be enrolled is 260 students. This partnership will help add faculty and increase the enrollment number to 340 students.”
Increasing the number of faculty members will also allow for a spring cohort to be added to the Associate of Science in Nursing program. Currently, the nursing program graduates students one time per year in May; the addition of a spring cohort will yield December graduates, allowing two annual entry points in the program for students and also allowing the Health System to have residency programs twice per year to onboard new graduates choosing to join the Health System after graduation.
“I can’t think of a better win-win-win partnership for our community at this particular time,” said College of Coastal Georgia President Michelle Johnston. “We are proud to be establishing a model that has the potential of accelerating progress in the near term and for the future with regard to the healthcare workforce.”
One of the many challenges of getting nurses dispatched to the frontlines is how long the education process takes. Nursing students at CCGA historically do not attend classes during the summer semester, adding additional time between entry to the nursing program and graduation. For students interested in joining the workforce several months sooner, CCGA will offer an accelerated registered nursing program that requires students to attend four consecutive semesters to graduate the cohort one full semester ahead of students in the traditional program.
While growing the program is a top priority, the fruits of this partnership extend far into student success. CCGA will establish a Student Success Counselor position that is dedicated to tutoring, coaching, and providing supplemental instruction for nursing students. Johnston explained, “Our nursing programs are challenging and our standards are high. That’s why we’ve been recognized as one of the top programs in the country. The Student Success Counselor will be key to maintaining academic excellence while supporting progress toward graduation.” Providing this support will help students be more successful throughout their academic journey as well as equip them to meet their career goals after graduation.
Incoming University System of Georgia Chancellor Sonny Perdue added, “Stepping into this role, I’m grateful for the leadership of the College of Coastal Georgia and SGHS for setting a standard and a model within the state. This partnership is an excellent example of the University System’s strategic goals of community impact and economic competitiveness.”
“We are excited to be partnering with the College of Coastal Georgia, not solely for the advancement of our own organizations, but primarily for the opportunity to come together and revolutionize the means through which we serve our communities,” said Raynes. “This partnership is the first step in the Health System’s long-range planning to assist in addressing the medical professional workforce challenges in our community.”