New State Grant Means A Doubling Of Nursing Graduates From CSU

COLUMBUS, GA. --- Columbus State University will more than double the university's capacity to graduate nurses with bachelor's degrees and reduce the length of its program through its share of a $4.55 million initiative announced today by Gov. Roy E. Barnes.

The project is a new Intellectual Capital Partnership Program (ICAPP) called the 'Health Professionals Initiative' designed to use state universities and community partners to address the critical shortage of health care professionals.

Statewide, the effort will generate a first-year payroll of $8.8 million for its graduates. Locally, the program positions CSU to immediately increase the number of nursing graduates to 40 in 2002-03 and 70 in 2003-04 for Columbus Regional Healthcare System and St. Francis Hospital, CSU's partners in the initiative. These partners have made a significant financial commitment to the initiative and their commitment played a large part in CSUs selection as a grant recipient

The initiative brings $182,000 in first-year program funding to Columbus State from ICAPP, the university systems economic development program that began several years ago from an effort between TSYS and CSU to train workplace-ready computer programmers.

In this new program, St. Francis and Columbus Regional are guaranteed a steady supply of highly educated nurses who will go quickly from the classroom to the hospital room. According to Dr. Art Cleveland, dean of the College of Science, CSU already has admitted 70 students for the fall semester into the hospital clinical portion of bachelors of science in nursing program, about twice the number usually enrolled.

The keys to success for Columbus State are the increase in numbers of students in the bachelor's of science in nursing program and the targeting of qualified students from many populations with an interest in nursing.

The nursing program requires four years of study and has the capacity to provide approximately 30 graduates per year. With the CSU ICAPP-Nursing program, the College of Science will have 110 nursing graduates in the next two years and a more efficient education program with the same high standards, Cleveland said.

For traditional students with no previous college level education, the full bachelor's program will take about three years. Students who have a prior degree in another field will be able to complete the program in about two years.

'We are experiencing a severe shortage of educated nurses and other health-care professionals right now,' said CSU President Frank Brown. 'This new ICAPP award to Columbus State is further evidence of CSU responding to a community need with an educational solution. We appreciate Columbus Regional and St. Francis for their faith in our efforts to produce graduates who are skilled, educated and immediately valued in the workplace.'

'We are proud to be associated with CSU and have a long history of supporting its health science programs,' said Larry Sanders, chairman and CEO of Columbus Regional. 'Our commitment of $100,000 to this ICAPP initiative is an investment in the future of our community. The health care manpower shortage must be addressed to ensure the best possible health and medical care for our residents. This is much more than a financial issue. It is a quality-of-life issue,' Sanders added. 'We commend CSU for its vision and commitment.'

'CSU has a history of providing outstanding health care professionals,' said Mike Zielaskiewicz, chief nursing officer at St. Francis Hospital, Inc. 'We are proud to play a part in helping them continue that tradition and ensure that resources will be available to meet the future health care needs of this community.'

The total investment in the ICAPP Health Professional Initiative is $4.55 million, which includes $2.1 million from the state for instruction costs and $2.45 million in cash and in-kind contributions of equipment, staff time, laboratory and classroom space from employers who have committed to provide jobs for program graduates. The governor's office estimates the new initiative will generate an estimated $623,000 in state income taxes and $196,000 in sales tax to the state during one year, 2003.

Over five years, CSU alone estimates that state income taxes generated by its program graduates will be $672,000.

The CSU program will utilize some online delivery of course materials and summer activities. An innovative, online delivery of some non-clinical courses, such as research, will allow greater presence in the clinical environment. CSU also plans to amplify the program with opportunities for intensive summer activities to guarantee maximum graduation rates and retention of juniors going into the senior clinical setting.

CSU is initiating a 'Nursing Online Learning Initiative' this summer designed to improve the success rate of non-traditional students while they are freshmen and sophomores.

The state funding is from the ICAPP Advantage economic development program. ICAPP Advantage is a direct economic development incentive from the Board of Regents that helps employers meet immediate educated workforce needs.

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For additional information, please contact Judy Davidson in the CSU Deparment of Nursing at 569-3542