CSU Participates in Effort to Boost Number of Nursing Grads

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Columbus State University is among the state campuses that will benefit from a Board of Regents strategic goal to increase the number of college graduates in the health professions.

The Board of Regents this week announced a Nursing Education Initiative that will distribute $3 million in competitive grant awards to 16 University System of Georgia (USG) campuses to boost the production of registered nurses and alleviate the nursing shortage in Georgia.

As part of the awards, Columbus State University will receive $141,043 to 1) increase nursing faculty salaries to more competitive levels; 2) increase admissions to 96 applicants to the bachelor’s of science in nursing program annually while maintaining the current number of full-time faculty and making maximum use of the campus’ current physical facilities; and 3) increase student retention and graduation rates to produce 66 additional graduates by 2010 via Student Success program activities and increased enrollment, retention and graduation rates.

“Our participation in this initiative allows us to graduate more nurses while beginning to address the problem of recruiting and maintaining qualified nursing faculty,” said June Goyne, chair of CSU’s Department of Nursing. “Beginning around 2010, nursing faculty retirements are going to begin increasing exponentially across the state. Unless more nurses with master’s degrees are attracted to nursing education careers, the state’s ability to graduate nurses is going to fall dramatically while the need for nurses continues to rise. Right now, nursing faculty salaries that are not competitive with clinical salaries for similarly educated nurses is our major obstacle.”

CSU’s efforts are part of a statewide goal of dramatically increasing the number of nurses in the state.

“The USG Nursing Education Initiative’s primary goal is to increase by 50 percent the number of new registered nurses prepared in the University System by 2010 through growth and efficiencies,” said Daniel Rahn, the University System’s senior vice chancellor for health and medical programs. “This translates to about 800-900 new nursing students in the USG, bringing the total number of nursing students in the System to approximately 2,700.”

Goal Three of the Board of Regents’ newly updated Strategic Plan – to “increase the USG’s participation in research and economic development to the benefit of a Global Georgia” – includes the objective of increasing the number of health profession graduates. The new Nursing Education Initiative is intended to build on the University System's ongoing, highly successful “Healthcare Professionals Initiative (HPI),” which has been pumping out graduates of nursing and other healthcare-related programs through the USG's Intellectual Capital Partnership Program (ICAPP) since 2003. By December 2008, this public-private partnership will have produced more than 1,800 nursing graduates, in addition to the nurses graduated by the System's regular nursing programs.